Dec 12, 2019
By Mariclare Cranston, Content Specialist


While tax-related fraud and identity theft comes in many forms, there are several ways that it can begin. They all involve obtaining a victim’s Personally Identifiable Information (PII). Here are some common scams to watch out for:

  • Phishing – Phishing occurs when fraudsters send taxpayers fraudulent e-mails or website links, that appear to be from the IRS. The criminal’s goal is to trick people into sharing personal information. A key point to remember: the IRS does not contact taxpayers by email, text messages, or social media to request personal or financial information. This includes requests for PIN numbers, passwords or similar access information.

  • Phone fraud – Cyber criminals often impersonate IRS agents via telephone, to steal personal information. The agency says it will never call to demand immediate payment, or ask you for your PII.

    • Important: The IRS will NEVER threaten you with arrest and tell you to buy gift cards and pre-paid debit cards, and send the card information to them as payment to avoid arrest. This is a sure sign of fraud, and has been rampant over the last several years. If you receive one of these calls, simply hang up the phone and call the IRS at 800.829.1040.

  • Tax preparer fraud – Tax preparer fraud occurs when tax clients receive e-mails that appear to be from their tax preparer, asking them to update their online accounts. The e-mails come from criminals, hoping to trick unsuspecting victims into providing such information as passwords, Social Security numbers, account numbers, and credit card numbers.

  • Computer Takeover – Fraudsters who purport to “clean up your computer” can access your Online Banking and transfer funds from one of your accounts to another; they will then tell you that they have made a “deposit” into your account and ask you to return the funds. In fact, they have not deposited any of their own funds at all; they have simply transferred funds from another of your accounts, often times without you knowing it. 

  • Gift Card Scam – Scammers will attempt to have you purchase gift cards, and send them the numbers from the card. The scammers then remove the balance from the cards, and the victim is left with nothing. The losses can range anywhere from under $100, to upwards of thousands of dollars! The scammers will utilize several different stories to accomplish the scam, some of which include:

    • Telling the victims that they have won a prize, or have unclaimed funds with a government agency, but must purchase gift cards and send the numbers in order to satisfy the “fees”;

    • Threatening the victims with arrest for unpaid taxes or loans, which must be satisfied “immediately” with gift cards;

    • Pretending to be an “old friend” on a social media site, claiming to be in dire need of money or asking for money for a fundraiser, in the form of gift cards.

Please be aware of these scams. If you believe you have been a victim of one of these types of fraud, MHV is here to help you. If you have questions, please call us at 845.336.4444 and a representative will be happy to assist you.


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