Posted by Schneiderman and Friedman

Tax Scams to Watch Out for as the Filing Season is Upon Us

Tax Scams to Watch Out for as the Filing Season is Upon Us

Even if every other thing seems uncertain, payment of tax will always be certain. Even when the Coronavirus dealt a massive blow on the whole earth, Uncle Sam still managed to have his cut from people's payroll. As people and various businesses prepare for a new tax season, there is also another certainty; there are criminals who devise multiple schemes in a bid to dupe innocent and unsuspecting taxpayers of their claims. 

Tax seasons create a perfect atmosphere for criminals to try and intercept people's refunds. There are a series of online scams that try to defraud people. As a result, we have summarized four common types of tax scams from criminals that taxpayers and various individuals need to be aware of as they prepare to file in April. 


Your Tax Return or Account is Restricted or Locked 

This is a phishing scam that will arrive in the mail of many taxpayers claiming to be sent from the IRS's server. According to the email, the tax return of the target is restricted. If you enlist the services of tax professionals' popular software, you might get a supposed mail from them claiming your tax account is locked as well. 

The idea behind both mails is the same – to deceive the taxpayer into clicking a link that could install a malware on their PC or collect personal information to give the scammers access to their tax return. 


Your tax Filing Information needs an Update. 

This is another form of a fake email that claimed to be sent from Uncle Sam's server. Such mail prompts the target to fill in their tax information or update their tax return. 

Most times, such a mail will have a link to a bogus site prepared by these cybercriminals. One needs to be careful as such links are usually replaced or encoded with an HTML attachment. 

Again, the central idea is for cybercriminals to access one's information and use it for a fraudulent purpose. 


Your Tax payment has been deducted from your account.

Owing any sum of money to Uncle Sam is quite scary for many people. Criminals bank on this and send out fake emails claiming that Uncle Sam already deducted some money from the victim's bank account. 

This mail will often come with an attachment as a receipt, a fake receipt, of course. In reality, however, there is not a receipt but a malware or malicious file that could compromise your PC's security. 


"You are qualified to receive a tax refund."

Cybercriminals use all means possible to exploit their target. As a result, another approach is to claim you qualify for some refunds from Uncle Sam. They use this, knowing that many will be excited at the idea of getting some money from Uncle Sam. 

This mail will often come with a link to another site where you will be asked for your details. The attachment might also install malicious ware on your PC. 

There is, however, an interesting variation to this scam. The cybercriminals might simply request proof of identity from the target. The evidence of identity could be a copy of the signed passport's data page, a valid utility bill like gas or water bills, a credit card statement, bank statement, etc. The victim will be directed to send such documents to a particular email address. 

One needs to be careful as the overall aim is to use such documents for something terrible like impersonating the taxpayer or even stealing their identity. 


How to Protect Yourself in the tax Season 

Here are some helpful tips that can keep you from tax criminals as you prepare to file your tax

  • Uncle Sam will not initiate any communication with a taxpayer via mail.

  • Any mail that addresses you by any of: “taxpayer,” "madam," or "sir" is fake

  •  Any attachment claiming to be from Uncle Sam, your tax preparation company, or the Income Tax department shouldn't be opened. 

  • phishing@irs.gov is the mail provided by Uncle Sam for citizens to report any mail that claims to be from there. 

  • Mails requesting scanned document copies should be ignored.


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