Apps

Identity Theft and Phone Scams Lead the List of the IRS’s Dirty Dozen Tax Scams

David Sanford

March 13, 2014

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued its “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams, reminding taxpayers to use caution during tax season to protect themselves from a variety of common scams they can encounter at any point during the year. But many of these schemes peak during filing season as people prepare their tax returns.

Identity Theft

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information, such as your name, Social Security number (SSN) or other identifying information, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. In many cases, an identity thief uses a legitimate taxpayer’s identity to fraudulently file a tax return and claim a refund.

The IRS has a special section on IRS.gov dedicated to identity theft issues, including YouTube videos, tips for taxpayers and an assistance guide. For victims, the information includes how to contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit. For other taxpayers, there are tips on how taxpayers can protect themselves against identity theft.

Taxpayers who believe they are at risk of identity theft due to lost or stolen personal information should contact the IRS immediately so the agency can take action to secure their tax account. Taxpayers can call the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490.

Pervasive Telephone Scams

The IRS has seen a recent increase in local phone scams across the country, with callers pretending to be from the IRS in hopes of stealing money or identities from victims.

These phone scams include many variations, ranging from instances from where callers say the victims owe money or are entitled to a huge refund. Some callers threaten arrest and revocation of a driver’s license. Sometimes these calls are paired with follow-up calls from people saying they are from the local police department or the state motor vehicle department.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do: If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 800-829-1040.

Phishing

Phishing is a scam typically carried out with the help of unsolicited email or a fake website that poses as a legitimate site to lure in potential victims and prompt them to provide valuable personal and financial information. Armed with this information, a criminal can commit identity theft or financial theft.

If you receive an unsolicited email that appears to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), report it by sending it to phishing@irs.gov. The IRS does not contact anyone using email.

For the entire list of the “Dirty Dozen”, visit the IRS website, located on our Helpful Links page or at www.irs.gov.

Back to List