IRS Warns of New Scams That Target Your Tax Refund

You may be more likely than ever to fall victim to an evolving tax scheme. Find out how to avoid it.

IRS Warns of New Scams That Target Your Tax Refund Photo by EKS design / Shutterstock.com

New email phishing schemes are putting your tax refund at risk.

The this week that it’s seeing “a steady onslaught of new and evolving phishing schemes as scam artists work to victimize taxpayers during filing season.”

There are countless variations on this scam, but they all involve fake emails designed to trick you into handing over money to fraudsters.

Phishing is the first scam revealed on the IRS’ latest annual “Dirty Dozen” list. The agency will continue unveiling one such scam each day for 12 days.

Phishing fraud in 2018

Phishing is of particular concern this tax season, thanks to a couple of unfortunate realities.

For one, it may be easier for scammers to pull off phishing schemes — that is, to succeed at robbing you of your hard-earned refund.

More of the personal information that thieves need — even Social Security numbers — is already floating around in cyberspace thanks to data breaches at giant corporations. Think Equifax, which recently revealed that its hacking affected even more Americans.

Second, phishing schemes are evolving, as the IRS notes. This year, scammers are going after not just taxpayers but also tax professionals, the IRS says.

This gives fraudsters another avenue to get hold of your sensitive data. Even if you don’t fall for phishing emails, it’s now possible someone at your tax preparer’s office could take the bait and unwittingly hand over your sensitive data to criminals.

Avoid being defrauded by phishing

The best way to ensure criminals don’t steal your tax refund is to file your return ASAP.

The IRS isn’t going to cut you two refund checks. So, once that money is in your hands, it’s far tougher for a scammer to trick the IRS into sending the refund to the scammer instead of you.

We suggested filing early in “3 Great Reasons to File Your 2017 Taxes Early.” That story was published before the tax season officially started and before the time you likely received tax documents like your W-2.

Procrastinating taxpayers now have little excuse not to file their taxes soon. If you need help, check out “Here’s the Best Tax Software for 2018” or hit up our tips and tricks for this tax season.

Do you worry about phishing? Sound off below .

Karla Bowsher
Karla Bowsher
I’m a freelance journalist and former newspaper reporter who has covered both personal and public finance. I've worked for a top 50 major metro daily and a community newspaper as well as ... More

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