June 25, 2024

Prior to the imminent tax deadlines this month, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has put together a compilation of most recurring scams that taxpayers need to be mindful of during the tax filing season.

With the due date for tax returns being April 15 for all states, except for Maine and Massachusetts where state holidays push the deadline to April 17, it is important for Americans rushing to meet these timelines to heed IRS warnings designed to protect them from culprits’ prying eyes.

Since 2002, the IRS kicks off its annual Dirty Dozen campaign featuring 12 prevalent scams targeting taxpayers and professionals. For its 2024’s first episode, the IRS has raised caution against an “evolving” class of phishing and smishing scams targeted at stealing taxpayers’ personal information.

Phishing involves a swindler impersonating the IRS, sending unsuspecting victims an alluring email scam featuring a series of trickeries extending from fictitious tax refunds to trumped-up charges of tax fraud aimed at intimidating the victim into the trap, as per the IRS.

A random image of a tax return with a pair of handcuffs superimposed. The IRS has issued a cautionary advisory alerting taxpayers of common scams in the lead-up to Tax Day.
A random image of a tax return with a pair of handcuffs superimposed. The IRS has issued a warning to taxpayers over common scams in the lead-up to Tax Day.

Smishing adopts similar techniques. Delivered via SMS, a smishing text sets off panic with scare tactics that might lead recipients into thinking that their details or accounts have been threatened, with the offenders extending a faux solution that can lead to crucial information getting pilfered.

Read more: Important Deadlines and Dates for Taxes Due in 2024

In both instances, the IRS advises those who receive such dubious messages to “never click on any unsolicited communication pretending to come from the IRS” as it could download malicious software onto a system or smartphone. “This can potentially be a route for hackers to infect devices with ransomware that prevents legitimate users from accessing their system and files,” the service elaborates.

Recipients of such suspect messages are implored to forward the correspondence to phishing@irs.gov and then dispose of the message. If anyone has unwittingly clicked on dubious links in emails or websites divulging confidential information, the IRS directs them to its identity protection page for assistance.

The federal agency asserts that it would never “initiate communication with taxpayers via email, text, or social media regarding bills or tax refunds,” adding that most official contact happens through traditional mail.

Read more: What Happened to My Tax Refund?

“Scammers are persistent in their efforts to gain access to confidential financial and personal information, and posing as the IRS is one of their preferred methods,” said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel.

“Individuals eagerly await the latest information regarding refunds and other tax-related matters, making them easy targets for scammers seeking to exploit the IRS as a bait. The IRS strongly advises people to be particularly wary of unsolicited messages and refrain from clicking any links in an unsolicited email or text if they harbor any doubts.”

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