Beware of the tax scam man

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Scam Alert: Tax ID Theft & Fraud

Fraud targeting taxpayers continues to run rampant nationwide. Watch out for these two tax crimes making headlines: tax identity theft and the IRS imposter scam.

Tax ID Theft

What is it?

Your personal information is stolen for a fraudulent refund. More specifically, tax identity theft can involve:

  • filing a tax return using another person’s Social Security number,
  • claiming someone else’s children as dependents, or
  • claiming a tax refund using a deceased taxpayer's information.

Your personal information can be stolen in a number of ways, including theft of mail or tax returns, corrupt tax preparation services, or phony emails from imposters. Con artists can quickly learn a lot about you in order to take your money while also defrauding the government.

What to do?

To avoid tax identity theft:

  • Do mail tax returns as early in the tax season as possible before the cons beat you to it.
  • Don't give out personal information unless you know who's asking for it and why they need it.
  • Do shred personal and financial documents.
  • Do know your tax preparer.
  • Do check the status of your refund after filing at

For help, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490 and visit

January 26-30 is Tax ID Theft Awareness Week. For more information on how to protect yourself, visit the Federal Trade Commission's special webpage.

IRS Imposter Scam

What is it?

An intimidating and sophisticated phone scam, callers claim to be IRS employees, and say you owe taxes. They might also:

  • threaten to arrest or deport you if you don't pay,
  • know all or part of your Social Security number,
  • rig caller ID to make it look like the call is from the IRS, or
  • tell you to put the money on a prepaid debit card and tell them the card number.

What to do?

Know that the IRS does NOT:

  • call to demand immediate payment about taxes owed without first sending you a notification by mail,
  • ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone,
  • threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement to arrest you for nonpayment.

If you have any doubts, call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040.

Or, if you've spotted a scam or think you may have been scammed, call our helpline at 877-908-3360 for advice and guidance.