Get free help preparing your taxes from AARP Foundation Tax-Aide. Find a location

Scam Alert

Don’t Get Scammed by Phony IRS Agents

Crooks use the 1040 season to access your personal and financial information

If you're mailing your return, take it to a U.S. post office or a blue postal service mailbox in a busy location. Why? Scammers can easily steal outgoing returns if you put them in your home's curbside mailbox. And although it's rare, thieves sometimes "fish" outgoing returns from USPS mailboxes in deserted locations.

When in doubt, check it out

Whenever you're asked for personal identifiers related to your tax returns, even if by U.S. mail, ensure the request is legitimate before responding. For communications supposedly from the IRS, you can call the IRS hotline at 800-829-1040. For local or state tax offices, check your phone book for a number. Don't rely on any number that's included in the message you receive.

This time of year, scammers sometimes double as tax preparers, offering to do the forms for you or review them for inaccuracies. But what they're really after is all that personal information on your return. Be wary of claims of a faster refund. If you're using a new tax preparer, verify his or her license by emailing (the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility) with the full name and address of the person or company. Of course, you'll want to carefully review any prepared return before it's submitted — and make sure it's signed by the preparer as well as you. And make sure it includes his or her ID number.

Sid Kirchheimer is the author of Scam-Proof Your Life, published by AARP Books/Sterling. He writes the Scam Alert column for AARP.

Also of Interest

Visit the AARP home page every day for great deals and for tips on keeping healthy and sharp

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

The Cheap Life

Jeff Yeager Cheap Life Ultimate Cheapskate AARP YouTube web series save money

Catch the latest episode of The Cheap Life starring Jeff Yeager, AARP's Ultimate Cheapskate. Watch

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

membership benefit financial college aarp

Advice on saving for education from AARP® College Savings Solutions from TIAA-CREF.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can get cash back rewards on purchases with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase.

member benefit aarp financial service auto insurance

AARP® Auto Insurance Program from The Hartford offers members no-cost quotes.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points

Advance your skills. Transform your career.

Explore your learning possibilities.