All Posts Tagged: scammers

Avoiding income tax fraud: What to know about the IRS

David Pollino

Every year, fraudsters find new ways to try to scam innocent tax payers out of their income tax refunds. The situation is even worse if they get their hands on the taxpayer’s confidential personal information, because they use this information for identity theft, causing problems for years to come.

Sign for Internal Revenue Service on the side of a stone building, with a traffic light (on red) nearby.The best way to thwart scammers is to be alert and to know the signs of fraud. Knowing how the IRS operates will help you recognize fraudulent activities.

The IRS always starts discussions by U.S. mail

If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and you have not received a letter in the mail, you can be certain that the call is not legitimate, even if the caller ID says it’s the IRS. Scammers use caller ID “spoofing” tools to assign fraudulent names to caller ID in the hop of convincing people they are legitimate. Caller ID is not a reliable indicator of the caller’s identity.

All IRS communications start with a letter sent through the Postal Service. Otherwise you can be comfortable hanging up on the caller or ignoring a text or email.

The IRS does not accept gift cards or store cards as payment

If you are in communication with someone claiming to be from the IRS and they offer to accept wire transfers, iTunes, or store gift cards in payment for the money they claim you owe, that is a clear sign of fraud. You can hang up or ignore the email without worry.

The IRS does not yell or threaten you

If a caller claiming to be from the IRS becomes verbally abusive, yells or screams or threatens to have the local police come to arrest you if you don’t pay up on the spot, you are not dealing with the IRS. The IRS will not revoke your driver’s or business license or threaten you with deportation. If the caller resorts to these or similar tactics, hang up.

The IRS does not hold you for ransom

The IRS will not seize control of your phone, tablet, PC or computer files and refuse to cede control unless you pay taxes you allegedly owe. You should protect your devices with strong anti-malware software, but if you see a message stating that are locked out until you pay up, malware has infected your computer. Do not pay. Contact the FBI for assistance.

The IRS does not ask you to confirm or update sensitive data

If you receive an email or a phone call claiming to be from the IRS asking you to answer questions or go to a website to update or confirm sensitive data, this is not the IRS asking. Even if the email looks legitimate and includes the IRS logo and other official looking details, do not follow the instructions.

What to do about fraudulent contacts

Anytime you have been contacted by fraudsters, you should immediately break off communication with the caller and report the incident. The IRS publishes a handy chart with contact info for each type of scam. Report any phishing attempts to may also report any fraudulent contact that uses the Internet to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at

Please see these other resources for more useful information:


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Ways to avoid scammers who exploit natural disasters

David Pollino
Fire-damaged room inside an empty house, with views out from broken windows and into two other damaged rooms.

It’s a sad fact: Fraudsters see opportunity in the wake of natural disasters, such as hurricanes, floods, and fires.

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Charity scams: Make sure your money gets to the right place

David Pollino
Young, smiling woman with clipboard greeting an older woman who is a potential donor at a charity event.

Before you donate, make sure you’re dealing with a genuine organization because scammers posing as nonprofits are after your money, too.

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