Here are the top tax scams of 2024

UnSplash +

Knowing the signs of a tax scam can help taxpayers stay safe for tax season and beyond

The deadline to file taxes is coming up quickly on April 15. Meanwhile the threat of IRS- and tax-related scams is as high as ever. 

A recent study from online protection company McAfee found that one in four Americans have lost money to an online tax scam, making it all the more important for taxpayers to be able to identify and protect themselves from tax scams

Biggest scams of the year

Trend Micro, a global cybersecurity firm, identified the top four tax-related scams of the year, which include: 

  • Tax Refund Scams: Scammers will contact taxpayers, claiming they’re eligible for a tax refund and will send instructions on how to claim the money. However, these sources send fake links for consumers to click through that end up stealing their personal information. 

  • IRS “Offer in Compromise” scams: The IRS’ Offer in Compromise is designed to help consumers reduce their taxes. However, scammers have created fake programs to entice consumers to share their personal financial details. 

  • Tax Assistance Program Scams: Similar to the Offer in Compromise scams, scammers have created lookalike tax assistance programs that are geared toward helping taxpayers claim deductions and credits. Like many of the other scams, these typically include links that direct consumers to fake websites that are designed to steal personal information. 

  • 2023 Unpaid Taxes Scams: Some scammers will send consumers emails, pretending to be the IRS, citing unpaid taxes from years past. This is typically always a ploy to get consumers to click on links and provide credit card or banking information to scammers. 

“These common scams can come in the form of robocalls, text messages, or emails that are impersonating the IRS and can lead to tax-related identity theft,” Jon Clay, Trend Micro’s VP of Threat Intelligence told ConsumerAffairs.

“Scammers will claim that you are eligible for a tax refund or that your 2023 taxes are unpaid, including a link to a fake IRS website where they’ll often ask for personal details or indicate that you need to make a payment in an attempt to steal your identity. Consumers should look out for these signs during tax season, and beyond if faced with a potential fraudulent call.” 

Beware of robocalls

Another popular tax scam to beware of this year: robocalls. 

With AI getting more advanced, scammers are utilizing the technology to contact consumers pretending to be the IRS. Transaction Network Services, a call analytics provider, shared sample audio and text of what some of these calls can look like. One such example includes the video below: 

Scammers use these tactics to prey on consumers’ fear and anxiety surrounding taxes. 

Signs to look for

To stay safe for tax season and beyond, it’s important for consumers to know the signs of the popular tax scams. Petros Efstathopoulos, vice president of Research at RSA Conference, shared some of things consumers should keep in mind this tax season. 

“There are three basic tactics that cybercriminals use to scam consumers,” Efstathopoulos said. 

  1. Fear – ‘Unless you provide this information, you’ll face negative consequences’ (e.g. you won’t receive your tax return or you’ll get audited by the IRS).

  2. Urgency – ‘You must provide your Social Security number to us quickly as this is an urgent matter.’

  3. The use of money as bait – ‘We have a rebate program for you.’ 

“If you come across any of these types of requests or offers, do not engage.”

What to do if you fall victim to a tax scam

In the event that you do fall victim to a tax scam, do you know what to do next? Efstathopoulos shared his best insights with ConsumerAffairs so taxpayers can effectively handle the situation. 

“Once you recognize that you’ve been scammed, I recommend visiting the IRS’s website and closely following their recommended next steps, which include submitting an Identity Theft Affidavit and working with the FTC to get a recovery plan in place,” Efstathopoulos said. “You should also look into external tools and services that can help protect your credit score and take back ownership of your identity if it is stolen.

“Finally, remember to stay calm throughout the process. Scammers often use tactics that play on fear and emotion, so try to stay calm even if you do fall victim to a tax scam. There are many ways to resolve the situation and undo some of the damage done.” 

Take an Identity Theft Quiz. Get matched with an Authorized Partner.