At tax time, law-abiding U.S. citizens are sharpening their pencils, gathering receipts and scrambling to find the correct forms to fulfill their duties as taxpayers. At the same time, identity thieves and scammers are sharpening their devious skills, coming up with new schemes to defraud the government and you. While such activity increases during tax season, fraudsters and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) impostors can strike any time of year. Learn about some common tax refund–related scams and tips to help avoid becoming a victim.
Scammers pretend to be IRS agents and contact taxpayers directly, demanding payment for taxes they claim are owed. They often threaten you with fines, arrest or garnishing of wages if you fail to cooperate. They may use official sounding titles and sprinkle in some of your personal information, which is easily harvested from the internet. This scamming may be done with a phone call (vishing), an email (phishing) or a text message (SMiShing) on your smartphone.
Goals of Phishing Schemes
Don't Take the Bait of These IRS Phishing Schemes
Tax refund identity theft happens when bad actors get their hands on your personal information, such as your name, date of birth and/or Social Security number and use that information to file a fraudulent tax return and obtain a refund, redirecting it to their account. It does not matter if your legitimate tax return indicates that you owe taxes or that the government owes you a refund.
Dishonest tax preparers can take advantage of you through refund fraud and identity theft. But there is also a new threat that targets tax preparers and their clients: Cybercriminals are posing as potential clients with the goal of gaining access to the tax preparer’s existing client database. The scammer poses as a client and sends an email containing malware to infect the preparer’s computer and can access all of the files and information on the preparer’s device.
A supported mobile device is needed to use Mobile Banking. Standard message and data rates may apply.
Google Pay and Google Play™ and Google Play logo are trademarks of Google LLC.
Apple, and iPod, and iPad are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. iPhone is a trademark of Apple Inc.
These articles are for general information purposes only and are not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting or ﬁnancial advice. PNC urges its customers to do independent research and to consult with security, ﬁnancial and legal professionals before making any ﬁnancial decisions. This site may provide reference to internet sites as a convenience to our readers. While PNC endeavors to provide resources that are reputable and safe, we cannot be held responsible for the information, products or services obtained on such sites and will not be liable for any damages arising from your access to such sites. The content, accuracy, opinions expressed and links provided by these resources are not investigated, veriﬁed, monitored or endorsed by PNC.
Read a summary of privacy rights for California residents which outlines the types of information we collect, and how and why we use that information.