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How to avoid these last-minute tax scams
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Security & privacy

Still haven’t filed? Avoid these last-minute tax scams

Tax Day is less than a week away. That’s right. You have until Monday, April 18.

Did you file federal tax income for 2018? If not, you may have a refund waiting to be claimed. The deadline for that is the same as the one to file your 2021 taxes. Tap or click here for more information on claiming what could be hundreds of dollars.

As the tax deadline approaches, scammers take advantage of people who waited until the last minute to file. We put together some scams to watch out for, along with tips to avoid falling victim.

Here’s the backstory

If you get a scary email from the IRS, don’t click any links or attempt to contact the sender. The IRS never initiates contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. Most of the correspondence from the IRS will come through snail mail via the United States Postal Service.

Cybersecurity company Proofpoint tweeted an example of an email with the subject line “RE: 2021 Tax Return.” It contains a malicious attachment:

More tax scams making the rounds

Have you received unsettling phone calls warning that you will be arrested if you don’t call back? The IRS and its collection agencies don’t call people to demand payment over the phone, nor do they accept gift cards.

While special circumstances may prompt a call from the IRS, you will receive several notices in the mail before this happens.

Your smartphone is a prime target for scammers during tax season. The IRS does not text taxpayers regarding any issues such as unpaid bills or refunds. You’ll only receive a text message to verify your identity to use IRS e-services. Text messages from IRS Password Service originate from 77958.

And any message you receive from social media claiming to be from the IRS is actually from a scammer.

What to do if you spot a scam

You can report suspicious activity to the IRS. This can help authorities to stop scammers.

  • If you receive an unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS, report it by sending it as an attachment to phishing@irs.gov.
  • If you receive a phone call from the IRS and the caller is demanding payment or threatening to bring in the police, hang up and report the call to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) using its IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting form or by calling 800-366-4484. You can also report the call via an email to phishing@irs.gov. Write “IRS Phone Scam” in the subject line.
  • Report scam calls to the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov. Add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
  • Report unsolicited text messages from the IRS to phishing@irs.gov. Include a screenshot of the message and the date and time you received it, along with the sender’s phone number.
  • Go to the Report Phishing and Online Scams page at IRS.gov for more information.

Protect yourself

Follow these tips to reduce your risk of falling victim to these types of scams:

  • Don’t click links or open attachments in unsolicited or suspicious emails claiming to be from the IRS or other tax agencies.
  • Don’t call back or take any other action if you receive a voicemail or text message from a sender claiming to be from the IRS and demanding payment.
  • Watch out for red flags such as spelling and grammar errors.
  • Use two-factor authentication and password managers for better security.
  • Always have a trusted antivirus program updated and running on all your devices. We recommend our sponsor, TotalAV. Right now, get an annual plan with TotalAV for only $19 at ProtectWithKim.com. That’s over 85% off the regular price!

Keep reading

Be careful how you answer that cryptocurrency question on your tax return

Get a voicemail about tax services? Don’t fall for the ‘Eavesdropping Scam’

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