The Internal Revenue Service is seeing an increase this summer in tax scams targeting taxpayers with emails and text messages claiming tax refunds and quick solutions to their tax problems.
While these schemes touch on a variety of topics, many center around promises about a third round of Economic Impact Payments. The message contains an embedded URL link that takes people to phishing websites to steal sensitive taxpayer information, it added.
"The IRS is seeing a wave of these summer scams relentlessly pounding taxpayers," said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel. "People are being flooded with these email and text messages, but we want them to avoid getting swept up in these terrible scams."
The agency's warning highlighted the following five topics of the wave of current scams:
- Economic Impact Payments. The title of such a message may be similar to "Third Round of Economic Impact Payments Status Available." This scheme plays off on a real-world event and has been around since 2021. "The related scheme has evolved and changed as scam artists look for new ways to adjust their message to trick people," the IRS said. Tipoffs may be emails that are riddled with spelling errors and factual inaccuracies.
- Misleading Employee Retention Credit (ERC) Claim. Scammers are "luring people to improperly claim the ERC with 'offers' that look like official government letters but have fake agency names and usually urge immediate action," the agency explained. Unscrupulous promoters make false claims about their company's legitimacy and often fail to discuss key eligibility factors, limitations and income tax implications. Tipoffs include promoters claiming quick eligibility determination without essential details, and those who charge up-front fees or a fee based on a percentage of the ERC claim.
- "Help You Fix It" Text Scheme. Identity thieves come up with a name on a text message that attempts to sound official, such as "govirs-accnnt2023." They send a variety of messages that say there is a problem with the recipient's tax return, but the anonymous sender can help resolve the problem if they click on a link. Tipoffs include misspellings and factual inaccuracies.
- The Delivery Service Scam. A new scam that tries to mislead people into believing they are owed a refund. It involves a mailing that arrives in a cardboard envelope from a delivery service. "The enclosed letter includes the IRS masthead and wording that the notice is 'in relation to your unclaimed refund,'" the agency said.
- "Claim your tax refund online" Scheme. Email and text messages suggest people have somehow missed getting their tax refund. "A variation in recent weeks has a blue headline proclaiming people should 'Claim your tax refund online,'" the IRS said. Tipoffs include misspellings and urging people to click on a link.
The IRS alert also reminded tax professionals to remain vigilant about the danger of fake communications from scammers posing as legitimate organizations in the tax and financial community, including the IRS and state agencies.