They say that nothing is certain except for death and taxes. Sadly, we might have to add a third thing to this list: cyber criminals angling for your money. Fraudsters are trying to take advantage of people eagerly awaiting their tax refund by running scams that have defrauded Americans to the tune of $5.7 billion in 2022, according to the IRS. Here’s how to ensure your refund is on the level.
The Facts on Tax Refund Scams
Scams can come in many shapes and sizes but typically, a tax refund scam starts with a cybercriminal impersonating an IRS agent, contacting the victim via phone, email or text, attempting to trick you into sharing personal and financial information. They may claim that there is an issue with your tax return or that you owe additional money or that you must verify certain information and then they request sensitive details like your Social Security number, bank account information, or credit card details.
To avoid falling victim to phishing scams, remember these essential tips:
- Be cautious of unsolicited communications: The IRS typically communicates through traditional mail. Be skeptical of any unexpected emails or messages claiming to be from the IRS.
- Verify the source: If you receive an email or message asking for personal information, contact the IRS directly using the official contact information available on their website to confirm its legitimacy.
- Avoid clicking on suspicious links: Never click on links within unsolicited emails, as they may lead to fraudulent websites designed to steal your information.
Scammers are hoping that the promise of tax refund money, the authority of a serious government agency like the IRS and the urgency to reply will fool people into sharing their personal information. Don’t fall for it. The IRS does not threaten consumers to make payments. The agency is committed to combating these scams and has a page dedicated to tips for how to avoid them and what to do if you’ve been phished.
In fact, when it comes to tax refund scams, it doesn’t hurt to act like the IRS: if a suspicious email hits your inbox, audit everything, take your time and don’t forget that you are in charge.