Protecting Yourself During Tax Season

It’s that time of year again when we start thinking about gathering all of our documents together to file our tax returns. Did you know that this is the time of year that many identities get stolen and tax returns get fraudulently filed? It can happen to anyone, so you must remain diligent!

Criminals use emails and telephone scams to trick taxpayers into revealing their valuable information. They are working hard to get as much of our money as possible before we can. There are many ways to help prevent becoming a victim of this type of crime.

The IRS estimated that more than $31 billion in tax fraud and financial crimes occurred in 2022. The first line of defense starts with you. In recent years many people have fallen victim to tax scams and bogus IRS communication through telephone calls, e-mails, and even regular mail.

The IRS DOES NOT initiate contact with a taxpayer by email or through social media. It is important to know that they will NOT call you to do any of the following:
  • Ask you to purchase gift cards, such as Google Play Cards/Apple Cards
  • Demand immediate payment
  • Ask for your credit/debit card number
  • Ask you to verify your Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Threaten taxpayers with a lawsuit or arrest due to nonpayment
The IRS WILL mail you a notice with an explanation of your outstanding balance.

Types of Tax Fraud

Phishing occurs when fraudsters send taxpayers fake emails or website links to trick would-be victims into sharing personal data. The IRS states that they will not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages, or social media channels to request personal or financial information. This includes requests for PIN numbers, passwords, or similar access information for credit cards, banks, or other financial accounts.

Phone Fraud
Cyberthieves often impersonate IRS agents via telephone to steal personal information. In recent years, the IRS has reported a rise in such cases. The agency says it will never call to demand immediate payment, nor will the IRS call about taxes you owe without first having mailed you
a bill.

Tax Preparer Fraud
Tax preparer fraud occurs when tax clients receive emails that appear to be from their tax professional asking them to update their online accounts. These emails come from criminals, hoping to trick unsuspecting victims into providing such information as account passwords, Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, and credit card numbers, all of which can make the taxpayer a victim of identity theft.

Phony IRS Visits
A particularly onerous form of tax fraud occurs when an identity thief visits a home (sometimes targeting elderly residents) and claims to be an IRS agent. While IRS agents do visit homes and businesses, they will carry picture IDs and will try to contact you before visiting. Don’t let anyone inside your home unless you’re satisfied they are who they say they are. When in doubt, call the police.

What To Do If You Think You're Being Scammed
  • NEVER give out any of your personal information over the telephone!
  • HANG UP immediately!
  • If you receive something in the mail, you want to verify that it is official visit, Understanding Your IRS Notice or Letter.
  • If you determine that you received fraudulent correspondence, then you should report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at and email, and place “IRS Scam” in the subject line.
  • You can also contact the IRS via telephone at 1-800-829-1040.

What To Do If You Become a Victim of Tax Fraud
  • Be sure to submit a paper return with any payments that you might have. Just because your e-filed return was rejected does not mean you do not have to file a tax return.
  • Be sure to fill out and attach Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit with your paper return.
  • File a police report with your local law enforcement agency.
  • File a report with the Federal Trade Commission at
  • Request a copy of the fraudulent tax return, by using Form 4506-F with the IRS.
  • Check your credit report and account statements. Make sure no one has charged anything to your credit card accounts or opened up new accounts. Consider changing passwords to online accounts and deleting your credit card information from online shopping sites.
  • Place a credit freeze on your accounts. Call the three (3) major credit bureaus - Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax, and ask that your credit be frozen. By doing so, you can prevent new credit from being created in your name.
  • Request a PIN for tax filing. You can add an extra layer of protection to your tax filing if you use an IRS-provided personal identification number. You can request a six-digit IP PIN if the IRS has invited you via mail to opt-in.