IRS Warns of New Scams That Target Your Tax Refund

Photo by EKS design / Shutterstock.com

New email phishing schemes are putting your tax refund at risk.

The Internal Revenue Service said this week that it’s seeing “a steady onslaught of new and evolving phishing schemes as scam artists work to victimize taxpayers during filing season.”

There are countless variations on this scam, but they all involve fake emails designed to trick you into handing over money to fraudsters.

Phishing is the first scam revealed on the IRS’ latest annual “Dirty Dozen” list. The agency will continue unveiling one such scam each day for 12 days.

Phishing fraud in 2018

Phishing is of particular concern this tax season, thanks to a couple of unfortunate realities.

For one, it may be easier for scammers to pull off phishing schemes — that is, to succeed at robbing you of your hard-earned refund.

More of the personal information that thieves need — even Social Security numbers — is already floating around in cyberspace thanks to data breaches at giant corporations. Think Equifax, which recently revealed that its hacking affected even more Americans.

Second, phishing schemes are evolving, as the IRS notes. This year, scammers are going after not just taxpayers but also tax professionals, the IRS says.

This gives fraudsters another avenue to get hold of your sensitive data. Even if you don’t fall for phishing emails, it’s now possible someone at your tax preparer’s office could take the bait and unwittingly hand over your sensitive data to criminals.

Avoid being defrauded by phishing

The best way to ensure criminals don’t steal your tax refund is to file your return ASAP.

The IRS isn’t going to cut you two refund checks. So, once that money is in your hands, it’s far tougher for a scammer to trick the IRS into sending the refund to the scammer instead of you.

We suggested filing early in “3 Great Reasons to File Your 2017 Taxes Early.” That story was published before the tax season officially started and before the time you likely received tax documents like your W-2.

Procrastinating taxpayers now have little excuse not to file their taxes soon. If you need help, check out “Here’s the Best Tax Software for 2018” or hit up our tips and tricks for this tax season.

Do you worry about phishing? Sound off below or on Facebook.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
3 Ways to Get Paid for Searching the Web
3 Ways to Get Paid for Searching the Web

If you’re already doing it anyway, why not get rewarded for it? Here are three great opportunities.

5 Medicare Mistakes to Avoid for a Healthy Retirement
5 Medicare Mistakes to Avoid for a Healthy Retirement

Medicare can be confusing. Beware these missteps — which can hike your costs.

17 Home Upgrades That Rarely Help Close a Sale
17 Home Upgrades That Rarely Help Close a Sale

Real estate agents give these renovations low marks when it comes to helping sell homes.

7 Ways Coupons Waste Your Money and Time
7 Ways Coupons Waste Your Money and Time

Here’s why I hung up my scissors and quit clipping coupons.

7 Effortless Ways to Make Extra Money
7 Effortless Ways to Make Extra Money

In the digital age, new ways of earning cash crop up all the time — and some require next to no effort on your part.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
10 Things Frugal People Never Buy
10 Things Frugal People Never Buy

If you’re a true tightwad, the mere thought of spending money on these items gives you the willies.

10 Useless Purchases You Need to Stop Making
10 Useless Purchases You Need to Stop Making

You might as well flush your money down the loo if you spend it on these things.

7 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know by Now
7 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know by Now

Confusion over Social Security is a shame, considering how many of us will need this money badly.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

They don’t make coffee makers like this anymore.

7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking
7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking

There’s more to Social Security than retirement benefits.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

14 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2021
14 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2021

These convenient household products come with hidden costs that you might not have considered.

The 6 Best Investing Apps for Beginners
The 6 Best Investing Apps for Beginners

If you’re looking to ease into investing in the coronavirus economy with just a little money, check out these easy-to-use tools.

Is Writing a Check Still Safe?
Is Writing a Check Still Safe?

Every time you pay by check, you hand your bank account numbers to a stranger.

8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today
8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today

Being frugal isn’t smart if you put off replacing these items.

6 Ways to Protect Your Retirement Accounts From Hackers
6 Ways to Protect Your Retirement Accounts From Hackers

Imagine having $245,000 stolen from your retirement account — and not being reimbursed.

9 Mistakes People Make When Cleaning With Vinegar
9 Mistakes People Make When Cleaning With Vinegar

Cleaning with vinegar can save you a lot of money, but using it like this can cost you.

13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now
13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook
7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook

Did you realize all these tax credits and deductions exist — or that they apply to retirees?

7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

7 Hidden Sections of Amazon Every Shopper Should Know
7 Hidden Sections of Amazon Every Shopper Should Know

These little-known departments of Amazon are gold mines for deal-seekers and impulse shoppers alike.

7 Costly Health Problems That Strike After Age 50
7 Costly Health Problems That Strike After Age 50

As we age, our bodies wear down. Here is how to cut costs associated with some common ailments.

This Is the Most Dependable Car Brand in the U.S.
This Is the Most Dependable Car Brand in the U.S.

This brand’s vehicles are least likely to give drivers repair headaches, according to J.D. Power.

7 Things I Never Buy at Costco
7 Things I Never Buy at Costco

A bulk buy isn’t always the best buy.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.