Tips to Avoid IRS Scams During Tax Season

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Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird announced tips for avoiding tax or IRS scams during the 2024 tax filing season.

Common tax scams include: 

  • Email Phishing Scams: Email messages claiming to be someone from the IRS, Treasury Department, or a tax preparer requesting personal or financial information. 
  • Phone/Imposter Scams: Calls or text messages threatening arrest, tax penalties, and even license cancellation or deportation if someone does not pay money or provide personal information. 
  • Identity Theft: Fraudulent filing of a tax return using someone else’s information to steal refunds.

“Most of us think we could never fall for a scam until we do,” said Attorney General Bird. “Tax season is already an anxious enough time for many Americans. The last thing we need is to fear getting ripped off by manipulative scammers. If the IRS appears to contact you online through emails, texts, or calls demanding payment or personal information, it’s a scam. And if you ever question if something is real, always double check and contact our office. We’re here to help.”

The Iowa Attorney General’s office investigates fraud, seeks reimbursement and relief for fraud victims, ensures fair competition in the marketplace, and aims to protect Iowans from falling victim to scams or fraud.

Iowans should know that the IRS will never:

  • Threaten immediate arrest or lawsuit.
  • Initiate contact by text, email, or phone to request personal or financial information.
  • Demand immediate payment using unconventional methods such as cash, cryptocurrency, wire transfer, money-transfer apps (Cash App, PayPal, or Venmo), gift cards, or prepaid debit cards.
  • Leave pre-recorded, urgent, or threatening messages, particularly on voicemail or answering machine.

To safeguard against tax/IRS scams and fraud, Iowans should:

  • Know the IRS operates by mail: If you owe taxes, the IRS will typically send a paper bill as first form of contact.
  • Question and appeal your tax bill: The IRS gives taxpayers the opportunity to question or appeal any amount owed before demanding payment.
  • Avoid suspicious links and attachments: These can contain dangerous software and malware designed to steal your information.
  • Hang up on suspicious calls: If you don’t owe taxes and receive a call claiming to be from the IRS, do not provide any information. Hang up.

If you believe you have been targeted or victimized by a tax season scam, contact the Iowa Attorney General’s office at 888-777-4590 or file a complaint online: https://www.iowaattorneygeneral.gov/for-consumers/file-a-consumer-complaint

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