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Beware of phony IRS scams

The IRS repeatedly publishes warnings about scams by people posing as IRS agents and demanding either money or information from taxpayers.  The scams usually involve dire warnings and threats about what might happen if the taxpayer fails to cooperate.  The IRS warns that it “will never initiate contact with taxpayers via email about a bill or refund.”  Also, it never asks for payment by credit card, iTunes or PayPal.

Watch for these common scams:

  1. Scammer sends an email asking you to click on a link for further information or instructions, or to “unlock your tax software account.”  DO NOT ACCESS ANY LINK from an email from IRS.  It is a fraud, designed to steal information.
  2. Scammer calls on the phone, threatening you with arrest, deportation or loss of diver’s license unless you immediately send funds.  THIS IS A SCAM.  The IRS does not make such calls, ever.  If they want money, they will send you a letter in the mail.
  3. Scammer guarantees you a larger refund if you hire them to prepare your tax return.  If you see the word “guarantee” in relation to your refund, it is a scam.  Nobody can increase the size of your refund except by preparing a fraudulent return.  And if the return is fraudulent, you will be held responsible, not the person who prepared the return.  A legitimate tax preparer might guarantee that your return will be accurate, or that he will find every legitimate deduction, but you want to be sure that your tax return is completely legal.

If you have been contacted by someone claiming to be an IRS agent, do not send any money or disclose any information before verifying the identity of the “agent.”