The onset of the tax filing period is likely to also see an increase in scams designed to steal taxpayer financial information or defraud individuals and businesses. Here are some of the scams the IRS is warning taxpayers and businesses to guard against.
- Direct deposit scams are “phishing” emails, generally sent by thieves to the HR or payroll department of a business from someone impersonating a company employee, asking for a change in direct deposit information to a bank account controlled by the criminal.
- A similar swindle involves a thief posing as a company executive sending an email request (often disguised to look genuine) for a wire transfer be made, also to an account set up by the scammer.
- Obtaining personal information is the goal of the “W-2” scam, in which a cybercriminal impersonating an executive emails a company’s payroll or accounting department requesting copies of employees’ W-2 wage and tax statement. These statements contain enough personal information (social security number, address, wages, etc.) for the thief to file fraudulent tax returns and steal any tax refunds, or to set up fake accounts using the employees’ names.
- Thieves are frequently impersonating IRS employees, making phone calls to unsuspecting taxpayers demanding payment of nonexistent tax bills. The criminals are very sophisticated, often “spoofing” caller ID so it appears to be a legitimate call from the IRS. In many cases the thief threatens pending arrest and presents instruction for immediate payment using a debit card or credit card.
Taxpayers should be on the lookout for and not respond to unusual emails requesting sensitive employee or customer data. In addition, the IRS will almost always initiate contact with a taxpayer by letter, not email or phone calls, and will never ask for a debit or credit card number over the phone. Any phone calls from the IRS will generally only come after multiple letters have been sent.
Taxpayers who feel they have been the victim of a phone scam can report it to the IRS via email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “IRS Phone Scam.”
For more information and tips on protecting your own data and information, please contact our Tax Department at (781) 407-0300.