Hundreds of thousands of U.S. residents are targeted by tax scams each year and the numbers are increasing. The IRS reported a 400% rise in phishing scams from the 2015 to the 2016 tax season. Approximately 30% of all reported data breaches in state and local governments in 2017 were related to the theft of W-2 information, which was likely used for tax fraud.

Here are some basic tips to help you minimize the chances of becoming a victim of a tax scam:


  • If you haven’t already, file your taxes as soon as you can … before the scammers do it.

  • Be aware of phone calls, emails, and websites that try to get your personal information, or pressure you to make a payment. If something seems suspicious, contact the organization through a known method, like their publicly posted customer service line.

  • Ignore emails and texts asking for personal or tax information. Be cautious as to whom you provide your information, including your Social Security Number and date of birth.


Remember:

  • The IRS will not initiate contact about payment with taxpayers by phone, email, text messages, or social media without sending an official letter in the U.S. mail first.

  • The IRS will not call to demand immediate payment over the phone using a specific payment method such as a debit/credit card, a prepaid card, a gift card, or a wire transfer.

  • The IRS will not threaten to immediately notify local police or other law-enforcement agencies to have you arrested for not paying.

  • The IRS will not demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount you owe.


If you receive a tax-related phishing or suspicious email at work, report it according to your organization's cybersecurity procedures. The IRS encourages taxpayers to send suspicious emails related to tax fraud to itsphishing@irs.gov email account or to call the IRS at 800-908-4490. More information about tax scams is available on the IRS website and in the IRS Dirty Dozen list of tax scams.

If you suspect you have become a victim of tax fraud or identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Identity Theft website will provide a step-by-step recovery plan. It also allows you to report if someone has filed a tax return fraudulently in your name, if your information was exposed in a major data breach, and many other types of fraud.