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Identity Theft

Scams Using Communications Tricks Make IRS ‘Dirty Dozen’ List

Scams involving suspicious communications in a variety of forms “designed to either trick, surprise, or scare someone into responding before thinking” have taken a spot on the IRS’s 2022 “Dirty Dozen” scams warning list, the agency said. (IR 2022-121, 6/8/22)

“Criminals have used these methods for years and they persist because these tricks work enough times to keep the scammers at it,” according to the announcement. “Victims are tricked into providing sensitive personal financial information, money, or other information.”

The IRS highlighted several categories of common scams it continues to see and warned that taxpayers should take extra caution against them.

The first is text message scams. According to the IRS, “these scams are sent to taxpayers’ smartphones and can reference things like COVID-19 and/or ‘stimulus payments.’ These messages often contain bogus links claiming to be IRS websites or other online tools.”

The second involves email phishing. The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. “If a taxpayer receives an unsolicited fraudulent email that appears to be from either the IRS or a program closely linked to the IRS,” the recipient should immediately report it to the agency, the announcement said.

The third scam involves mobile phones. The IRS said it doesn’t leave prerecorded, urgent, or threatening messages. Scammers use voicemail to threaten taxpayers of supposed arrest warrants, intervention by law enforcement, deportation, or license revocation. Criminals can fake or “spoof” caller ID numbers to appear to be anywhere, including from an IRS office.

“If you are surprised or scared by a call or text, it’s likely a scam, so proceed with extreme caution,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said. “I urge everyone to verify a suspicious email or other communication independently of the message in question.”

 

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