Tech Tips: IRS Warns of Tax Scams

Tech Tips: IRS Warns of Tax Scams

The IRS encourages taxpayers to be on the lookout for these schemes.

IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig stated, "Tax scams tend to rise during tax season or during times of crisis and scam artists are using pandemic to try stealing money and information from honest taxpayers. The IRS provides the Dirty Dozen list to help raise awareness about common scams that fraudsters use to target people. We urge people to watch out for these scams."

The scammers may attempt to contact individuals online or by phone. Taxpayers should understand the basic scam strategies to protect themselves and their family.

Individuals should be on the lookout for fake emails. The IRS has a policy that it will not contact you through email about your tax bill, refund or Economic Impact Payment. If you receive a suspicious email claiming to be from the IRS, be careful and do not click on links. The latest scam emails often include the words "Coronavirus," "COVID-19" or "Stimulus." A scammer will send emails to a large number of individuals, with the hope of obtaining financial information, account numbers and passwords. The most successful scams this year use the fear of the virus and the desire to receive a stimulus payment.

Fake Charities
When there is a natural disaster or other crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, criminals will set up fake charities. There are many individuals with good intentions who are vulnerable to these fake charity scams. The criminal creates a fake charity and then contacts individuals through phone calls, text messages, social media, email or even in-person. The bogus charity often has a name similar to a legitimate charity. You should only give to charities that you recognize. There is a helpful search tool for qualified charities on

Threatening IRS Impersonator Phone Calls
A common strategy for scammers is to call a taxpayer on the phone. The scammer claims to be an IRS representative and threatens the victim. The IRS emphasizes that it will never threaten a taxpayer or "surprise him or her with a demand for immediate payment" by telephone. The scammer may threaten to arrest or deport the victim or revoke his or her driver's license. The IRS emphasizes it does not demand immediate payment, threaten or ask for financial information over the phone. If you are contacted and suspect a problem, hang up and use one of the IRS numbers to contact the Service.

Social Media Scams
The latest social media scam is to use COVID-19 as part of a social media strategy to trick people. The scammer may use social media to learn about a potential victim’s family members. From this knowledge, the scammer will then impersonate a relative of the victim. Alternatively, the scammer may attempt to convince the victim that he or she is working with a friend or relative. With this relationship established, the fraudster then emails the victim. When the victim clicks on a linked file, malware is loaded on the victim's computer. This malware enables the scammer to acquire passwords and financial information.

COVID-19 Refund Fraud and Theft
The IRS has a continuing program underway to reduce refund fraud and theft. This year has also involved an IRS focus on fraudsters who attempt to steal Economic Impact Payments under the CARES Act.

Many criminals try to steal identities and then file false tax returns. During 2020, they also may attempt to steal individuals' Economic Impact Payments. This has been a particular problem for residents of nursing homes and senior homes. The IRS emphasizes that checks for senior individuals are not counted to determine their eligibility for Medicaid and are not included in income. Individuals should go to and review the If you think you have been a victim of identity theft, refer to the Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft at

Senior Fraud
There are a growing number of tax scams that target senior Americans. These may even involve personal and professional advisors for seniors. A primary method for protecting seniors is for a trusted friend or family member to be in regular contact and monitor the financial affairs of the older person.

Many seniors are now active users of the internet and social media. Seniors who use the internet are potentially vulnerable to email phishing scams related to COVID–19. Scammers mount a continuing effort through email, text messages, websites and social media to gain the personal financial information of seniors.