Tax Scams Catch 1 in 4 Americans Off Guard, Study Says

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Artificial intelligence has a new use this tax season — ripping people off.

“AI-powered messages and deepfake video or AI-generated audio” are a new part of the scammer toolkit, says antivirus software maker McAfee, which recently released its 2024 Tax Scams study.

The study, which surveyed 2,500 adults about recent online scams, found 25% of Americans have lost money to such a tax scam — some a substantial amount. Among survey respondents who clicked on what turned out to be a fraudulent link, 68% lost some amount of money.

The amount these folks lost was as follows:

  • Lost more than $2,500: 29%
  • Lost more than $10,000: 17%

Cryptocurrency-related scams, in particular, commonly cost people money. Meanwhile, recent AI technology improvements mean criminals can now spoof regional accents in their robocalls, or deepfake an IRS agent. The study found about 1 in 3 Americans have never heard of this ability or wouldn’t recognize it being used against them.

Another common scam involves fake links to tax websites such as TurboTax and sketchy PDF attachments in emails supposedly from the IRS.

It’s important to note the IRS will never “initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. This includes requests for PIN numbers, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts,” according to the agency.

To avoid such scams, McAfee recommends not clicking on links in emails. Instead, navigate to the proper website yourself.

If you’re not sure whether you might have already fallen for a scam this tax season, “Beware These 10 Signs of Identity Theft.” You may also want to consider an identity theft protection service like Aura.

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