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SCAM ALERT: Tax ID Theft & IRS Imposter Scam

Fraud targeting taxpayers continues to run rampant nationwide. Watch out for these two tax crimes making headlines: Tax identity theft and the IRS imposter scam.

man on phone in the kitchen


What is it?

Your personal information is stolen for a fraudulent refund. More specifically, tax identity theft can involve:

  • filing a tax return using another person’s Social Security number,
  • claiming someone else's children as dependents, or
  • claiming a tax refund using a deceased taxpayer's information.

Your personal information can be stolen in a number of ways, including theft of mail or tax returns, corrupt tax preparation services, or phony emails from imposters. Con artists can quickly learn a lot about you in order to take your money while also defrauding the government.

What to do?

To avoid tax identity theft:

  • Do mail tax returns as early in the tax season as possible before the cons beat you to it.
  • Don't give out personal information unless you know who's asking for it and why they need it.
  • Do shred personal and financial documents.
  • Do know your tax preparer.
  • Do check the status of your refund after filing at

For help, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490 and visit


What is it?

An intimidating and sophisticated phone scam, callers claim to be IRS employees, and say you owe taxes. They might also:

  • threaten to arrest or deport you if you don't pay,
  • know all or part of your Social Security number,
  • rig caller ID to make it look like the call is from the IRS, or
  • tell you to put the money on a prepaid debit card and tell them the card number.

What to do?

Know that the IRS does NOT:

  • call to demand immediate payment about taxes owed without first sending you a notification by mail,
  • ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone,
  • threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement to arrest you for nonpayment.

If you have any doubts, call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040.

Or, if you've spotted a scam or think you may have been scammed, call our helpline at 877-908-3360 for advice and guidance.


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