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Don't be a victim of imposter scams

Learn to spot scams and avoid tax fraud.

Scam #1: Phising

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reports that phishing schemes are a continuing problem. Phishing is an attempt to obtain a payment or sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and account details by scammers impersonating a reputable company or government agency through an email, text message, or social media post. Once acquired, your information can be used to access your account, apply for benefits or refunds in your name, and steal money.

Be on the lookout for IRS imposter scams that offer assistance with receiving benefits, request payment for overdue taxes, or require you to verify your personal information. In a recent stimulus payment scam, taxpayers received text messages with a link to a phishing website that impersonated the IRS.gov Get My Payment site.

Those who visited the fraudulent website were prompted to enter their personal and account information, which was used to commit fraud.

What you should know :

  • If you receive an unsolicited email or text claiming to be from the IRS, do not: reply, click any links, or open attachments, which may contain malicious software. Be especially cautious of communications that reference “COVID-19” or “stimulus”. They may include promises of assistance, requests for charitable contributions, notices of outstanding tax payments due, or requests to verify personal or account information.
  • Do not provide passwords, account numbers, or personal information in response to emails, texts, or social media. The IRS does not send unsolicited texts or emails and will not ask for personal or account information through digital communications. In addition, neither the IRS nor state agencies will text taxpayers asking for account information to make a stimulus payment deposit.

Scam #2: Fraudulent Phone Calls

Scammers, posing as the IRS, call claiming you owe taxes. They may demand that you settle the bogus tax bill by sending money through a gift card, prepaid debit card, or wire transfer. Alternately, an imposter may call offering to assist with COVID-related benefits payments and ask you to provide personal or account information in order to receive a payment.

What you should know :

Do not engage in conversation if the caller: 

  • Demands immediate payment or offers to assist you with receiving a payment
  • Uses aggressive tactics, such as threatening arrest, deportation, or license revocation
  • Requests credit, debit, or bank account numbers

Scam #3: Identity Theft

One growing identity theft scam involves criminals stealing client data from tax professionals or directly from you by obtaining your tax software login information, filing a fraudulent tax return and having the refund deposited into a bank account. Then they use various methods to demand that you return the money to them.

In one version, the scammers, pretending to be IRS debt collectors, contact you claiming a refund was deposited in error. Then they ask you to forward the money to their “collection agency”.

In another variant, you receive an automated phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS threatening you with criminal charges, an arrest warrant, and a “blacklisting” of your Social Security number if you do not return the refund. The caller then gives you a case number and phone number to call to return the money.

What you should know:

  • Use a unique username and password for tax filing software, and update them at least annually. File taxes early to prevent others from filing a fraudulent return in your name.
  • Do not share your Social Security number with others unless absolutely necessary.
  • Shred sensitive documents before discarding.
  • Avoid storing personal or account information on your computer or mobile devices.

What to do if you believe you are a victim of a tax scam:

  • Call the Customer Care Center at 800.374.6123 for assistance. If the call is outside of normal business hours, use option 3, then option 1, then option 2. You also can disable your card via our mobile application. Once you are in the mobile application: Select more, card controls, and then disable the card.
  • Report identity theft to IdentityTheft.gov and follow the steps to obtain your personalized recovery plan.
  • If your SSN is stolen, contact the IRS.

Keep your tax refund secure in a Peoples Bank savings account. Open an account online today.

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