Beware the Latest Tax Scams

upset young man looking at phone
By Sharon Messmore

2 minutes

3 tips to share with members to protect them from fraudsters posing as revenue officers or tax preparers

Though April 15—the deadline for submitting taxes to the U.S. government—has come and gone, as CUES partner TRC Interactive points out in their latest edition of First Line of Defense, tax scams won’t stop after that date. Learn about the latest tax scams below and prevent your members from being the latest victims.

Beware the Imposter

Scammers will call, text or email their target pretending to be an IRS revenue officer. They may ask the member to click a link and enter personal information or ask for payments over the phone.

Don’t respond. Contact the IRS through a different method to confirm the details of your return. Use official government websites to find the right people to call. Report any scammers to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and to the IRS.

Be Skeptical of Urgency

A common scam tactic is to fluster the member by creating a sense of urgency. They may prey on fears that a return was filed incorrectly, offering to “fix” the problems—for a fee. Scammers know their targets want to quickly and simply take care of issues and will use that to their advantage to collect personal or financial information.

Don’t panic. The IRS will not demand immediate payments or threaten arrest over the phone. Revenue officers set up appointments to discuss your return through official physical letters and there are checks in place to allow you to question or appeal payments.

Use Legitimate Tax Preparers

The IRS isn’t the only organization a scammer will impersonate—tax preparers are common as well. A “ghost” preparer may offer to help file a member’s taxes, charging fees based on the refund received. So named because they try to keep their involvement as invisible as possible, these scammers may intentionally add fraudulent items to the return such as invented income or fake deductions in order to receive a larger refund.

Do your research. The IRS provides a list of legitimate tax professional services on their website. Anyone who assists with tax preparation must sign the return and include their Preparer Tax Identification Number. If your preparer does not have a PTIN or refuses to sign, report them to the IRS and find a new service.

Awareness is the first step in preventing losses through tax scams. Keep your team up to date on the latest fraud concerns and use First Line of Defense to stay sharp throughout the year.

Sharon Messmore is products & services manager for CUES.


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