How to Protect Yourself from Tax Scams

How to protect yourself from tax scams

Understand tax scams to help protect yourself.

Tax season can be stressful for lots of people. But it's also a time when scammers may try to trick you. These scams can cause big problems like stealing your identity, losing money, or other serious things.

Understanding tax scams

Before we dive into how to protect yourself from tax scams, it's important to understand what they are and how they work. Tax scams trick people into giving away their personal and money details. The scammers pretend to be real tax agencies or groups. They use threats of going to court, sending you to collections, promises of big or immediate tax refunds, or requests for personal info like social security numbers or bank account details.

Common types of tax scams

There are several common types of tax scams that you should be aware of:

  • Phishing scams: These scams involve dishonest emails or websites that look like they are from real tax agencies, like the IRS. These scams usually ask for personal information or send people to fake websites where they have to type in sensitive information.
  • Phone scams: This scam involves people getting a phone call from someone who says they're from the IRS or another tax agency. The person on the phone might threaten to take legal action or ask for or demand immediate payment of taxes.
  • Fake tax preparation services: Some fraudsters pretend to be tax preparers and say they can file taxes for people. They might ask for high fees or take people's personal information when they do it.
  • In-person scams: Scammers might come up to people, pretend to be tax agents, or offer to help with tax prep. They may request personal details or insist on getting paid for taxes.

How to protect yourself from tax scams

Now that you know what tax scams are and how they work, let's discuss some steps to protect yourself.

  1. Stay Informed. The first step in protecting yourself from tax scams is to stay informed about the latest scams and how they work. The IRS regularly updates its website with information about current tax scams, so be sure to check their website often. You can also sign up for email alerts from the IRS to stay informed about potential scams.
  2. Be wary of suspicious emails and phone calls. Be careful if you get an email or call from someone saying they're from the IRS or another tax agency. The IRS never contacts you through email, text, or social media to ask for personal or financial details.
  3. Protect your personal information. It's important to keep your personal information safe. This means being careful with your social security number, bank details, and other private information. Only share this info with sources you trust. If you're not sure if a request for personal info is legit, don't give it out.
  4. Use secure websites. When you do your taxes online, use a safe website. Check for "https" in the website's URL - that means it's secure. You can also look for a padlock icon in the address bar, which shows it's secure too. If you're not sure if a website is legit, don't give any personal info.
  5. Use strong passwords. When you file your taxes or access tax info online, make sure to use strong passwords. These should have letters, numbers, and special characters. Avoid using easy-to-guess details like your name or birthdate. Also, have different passwords for different accounts to protect against all your accounts being compromised if there's a data breach.
  6. Monitor your accounts. Checking your bank and credit card accounts often can help you find any weird activity. If you see any charges or withdrawals that you didn't authorize, tell your bank or credit card company right away. Make sure to also check your credit report often to make sure no one opened accounts or made inquiries without your permission.


Tax scams can be a serious threat to your personal and financial information. By staying informed, being cautious about sharing personal information, and using secure websites and strong passwords, you can protect yourself from these fraudulent activities. If you do fall victim to a tax scam, be sure to take immediate action to minimize the damage and prevent any further harm.

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