How to Recognize Identity Theft & Tax Scams

How to Recognize Identity Theft & Tax Scams

By: Chrissy Darby

Did you know summertime is a popular season for cyber criminals to target taxpayers in identity theft and money scams? Although you may think tax season is the only time to be vigilant, cyber criminals are active throughout the entire year. In fact, with hurricane season underway, criminals and scammers will be on the rise trying to take advantage of the generosity of those who want to help victims of natural disasters. Identity theft of taxpayer information is a serious issue because these scams are continually evolving.

Common Scams

You need to be aware of the ongoing tax and identity theft scams to best protect yourself. Here are just a few of them:

Phishing Scams: Fake emails and websites are used by criminals to steal personal information.  Be wary of any email claiming to be from the IRS and do not click the links.  Websites have evolved to look real, but you should not enter any personal information without verifying if the site is authentic.

Phone Scams: Some criminals call or text taxpayers pretending to be from the IRS. They demand money and use threatening scare tactics to coerce taxpayers into giving money via credit card over the phone.  This is currently a popular method among criminals.  However, the IRS does not ever ask you give personal information or payments over the phone.

Erroneous Refund Scams: Criminals will pose as debt collection agency officials acting on behalf of the IRS. These automated phone calls with a recorded voice will say they are from the IRS and threaten taxpayers with criminal fraud charges, an arrest warrant, and a “blacklisting” of their social security number.

Scams Related to Natural Disasters: This is a two-fold scheme that attacks both victims of the disaster and those who want to help. The scammer may impersonate a charity to get money or private information from a donor who only wants to help. On the other hand, scammers may claim to work for the IRS to help victims file casualty loss claims, when they are only trying to steal personal information.  The IRS has a search feature to help you verify qualified charities.  Click here to access the Tax Exempt Organization Search.

Tips to Keep you Safe

What to Do After A Tax Scam Attempt

If you find yourself victimized by someone impersonating the IRS, you should report it.  If you receive an email and believe it is an IRS-related scam, forward it to  You can report a threatening telephone call at  If you are ever unsure, please call us at hb&k.  We can contact the IRS on your behalf to verify whether there is a true issue.  We can also report the crimes for you.