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Don’t fall victim

Recognizing and avoiding tax scams

Tax season can be stressful but beware of scammers trying to take advantage. Here’s how to identify and avoid them: 

Red flags: 

  • Urgent threats: The IRS typically initiates contact via mail, not by phone, email, or text demanding immediate payment. Threats of arrest or deportation are huge red flags. 
  • Unfamiliar taxes: Scammers may invent taxes like a “Federal Student Tax”. Legitimate tax information can be found on the IRS website. 
  • Suspicious payment methods: The IRS won’t ask for payment via gift cards, prepaid cards, or wire transfers. They accept checks, electronic payments, or credit cards (with a fee). 
  • Phishing attempts: Emails or texts claiming to be from the IRS requesting personal information are scams. The IRS won’t ask for sensitive details through these channels. 

Stay safe: 

  • Don’t engage: If you suspect a scam, hang up the phone, don’t reply to emails, and don’t click on links. 
  • Verify directly: Contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to confirm any communication claiming to be from them. 
  • Report scams: Report suspected tax scams to the IRS at [email protected]. 

By staying vigilant and recognizing red flags, you can protect yourself from tax scams and ensure a smooth tax season. Remember, the IRS is there to help, not threaten. 

About This Author


Ross Bentzler

Ross Bentzler is Executive VP and Information Security Officer for Alpine Bank. Ross has worked in the information technology field for two decades, focusing on information security for 13 years.

More about Ross Bentzler

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