Spotting Tax Scams & How to Help Avoid Them

Fraud and cybercrimes can happen at any time — even during a global pandemic. In 2021, Americans were susceptible to tax and COVID-related fraud. 

For fiscal year 2021, the Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS identified $2.19 billion in tax fraud schemes1. With a few tips and tools, this year we can help you protect yourself.

 


Be Prepared Against Scams This Tax Season

Tax season is an ideal time for scam artists and cybercriminals to steal personal data or use information they already have. With your social security number, thieves can file a fraudulent return in your name and collect the refund. They can also use or sell your personal information to commit other crimes. To help avoid tax-related identity theft, taxpayers are encouraged to file their taxes early, regularly monitor their credit reports, and be suspicious of any request that asks for their personal information.

Common Tax Scams

  • Phishing Emails
    Phishing scams are designed to trick taxpayers into thinking these are official communications from the IRS or others in the tax industry, including tax software companies. Be alert to emails from the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP), which is a volunteer board that advises the IRS on systemic issues affecting taxpayers. The TAP website does not request personal information other than asking for your email address and the state in which you live when you submit a suggestion2.
  • Phone Phishing
    Phone phishing scams are from callers claiming to be IRS employees, using fake names and ID numbers, that target taxpayers and recent immigrants. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling.
  • Text Smishing
    Variations of phishing emails come by text messages that link to fake websites intended to mirror the official IRS website.

Learn more about phishing at huntington.com/Security

How to Report Tax Fraud3

  • Forward any suspicious tax-related email to phishing@irs.gov.
  • Call the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at (800) 908-4490 or visit irs.gov/individuals/how-do-you-report-suspected-tax-fraud-activity
  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at identitytheft.gov.
  • If you have been a victim of fraud, consider placing a fraud alert on your credit records with the three major credit bureaus at equifax.com, transunion.com, or experian.com. These free fraud alerts let credit card companies and others who may provide credit know that you've been a victim of fraud.
  • Contact your bank and other financial institutions, and close any financial or credit accounts that might have been opened without your permission or compromised by identity thieves.

How to Help Protect Yourself Against Tax Scams 

  • File your taxes as early as possible during tax season. Fraudsters using stolen identities tend to file false returns early hoping to obtain refunds before the legitimate taxpayer files their return.
  • If you aren’t required to file a tax return, consider filing anyway to prevent someone else from filing in your name. This will also help alert you in case a fraudulent return has already been filed in your name.
  • Before giving out your information, verify email or other requests that appear to come from a tax professional, financial institution, or government entity by calling the source.
  • Keep in mind that scammers may have extensive information about a person, and the caller ID on your phone may actually show a local law enforcement agency or similar official-looking name.
  • Only give out your personal information when absolutely necessary—especially on websites and social media sites—and keep track of who you give it to and remember to verify the source.

How the IRS Contacts Taxpayers4 

  • The IRS will not contact you by text message or through social media to ask for personal information or to collect a tax debt. The government loves a paper trail. The IRS will normally initially contact you by letter delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. If you are unsure about a request or tax bill, call the IRS at (800) 829-1040.
  • The IRS will not give you an ultimatum to pay up immediately using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card, or wire transfer.
  • The IRS will not demand the taxpayer pay taxes without the opportunity to question or appeal.
  • The IRS will not threaten to immediately send police or other law enforcement to arrest you.
  • In the case of a personal visit from someone claiming to be from the IRS, check for official credentials in the form of a pocket commission and HSPD-12 card.

Contact Huntington

If you receive a suspicious email claiming to be from Huntington, please let us know at reportfraud@huntington.com.

Visit huntington.com/Security for more tips on protecting yourself and to learn more about how we help protect your privacy and keep your information secure.

1https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p3583.pdf

2https://www.improveirs.org/privacy-statement/

3https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/id-theft-heres-what-to-look-for-and-what-to-do-when-it-happens

4https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/filing-season-security-tip-know-the-facts-about-how-the-irs-contacts-taxpayers

The information provided in this document is intended solely for general informational purposes and is provided with the understanding that neither Huntington, its affiliates nor any other party is engaging in rendering tax, financial, legal, technical or other professional advice or services, or endorsing any third-party product or service. Any use of this information should be done only in consultation with a qualified and licensed professional who can take into account all relevant factors and desired outcomes in the context of the facts surrounding your particular circumstances. The information in this document was developed with reasonable care and attention. However, it is possible that some of the information is incomplete, incorrect, or inapplicable to particular circumstances or conditions. NEITHER HUNTINGTON NOR ITS AFFILIATES SHALL HAVE LIABILITY FOR ANY DAMAGES, LOSSES, COSTS OR EXPENSES (DIRECT, CONSEQUENTIAL, SPECIAL, INDIRECT OR OTHERWISE) RESULTING FROM USING, RELYING ON OR ACTING UPON INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT EVEN IF HUNTINGTON AND/OR ITS AFFILIATES HAVE BEEN ADVISED OF OR FORESEEN THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES, LOSSES, COSTS OR EXPENSES.