The past three years have been a dream run for scammers. Even since the stimulus checks were first sent within weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic first hitting America, the scammers have moved in swiftly to relieve people of their economic impact payments.
Over the past three years, these criminals have managed to siphon off hundreds of millions of dollars from the IRS and stimulus check beneficiaries. The menace has spilled over in 2023 with scammers targeting tax refunds. These scams have quickly become one of the most common ways thieves have employed to steal your money and even more dangerous, your identity.
Criminals take advantage of the stress of paying taxes or getting in touch with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to steal sensitive data and file fake tax returns. And the problem is only getting worse.
The IRS had identified tax fraud of over $5.7 billion in 2022 alone. And 2023 promises to be just as bleak with an abundance of stimulus checks and tax scams in the first quarter alone. This is even as the volume of stimulus checks has decreased drastically over the past year and a half.
While most of us know little about the workings of the tax system, we must do our bit to help identify such economic offenses. But we immediately need to spot a tax refund and report the matter to the concerned authorities.
Identifying Tax Refund And Stimulus Check Scams
The incidents of stimulus checks-related scams have transformed as the federal stimulus checks have decreased in volume after 2021. Now criminals have shifted their attention to tax refund scams, and they are quickly becoming one of the most common ways thieves steal your money and even your identity.
Criminals prey on the stress that tax-related activities cause a lot of stress on taxpayers and pose as an intermediary, saving people from interacting with the IRS directly. And the problem is worsening with each passing season.
Over $5.7 billion worth of tax fraud was detected by the IRS in 2022 alone and 2023 promises to be just as bleak for taxpayers when it comes to tax and stimulus check-related frauds.
But then it takes work to spot a tax refund or stimulus check scam. IRS imposters and criminals take advantage of each tax season and defraud thousands of taxpayers.
While few of us understand the complexity of the taxation and stimulus check payment process, there are ways in which we can detect attempts to defraud us. By following a few simple stems, we can learn to sport tax refund and stimulus check scams. This will prevent IRS imposters and other criminals from taking advantage of you during the tax season.
Tax Refund And Stimulus Check Scams
Tax refund scams are financial fraud where scammers impersonate IRS agents and other government representatives and try ways to trick you into revealing personal information or giving them access to your tax refund account.
Tax and stimulus check scams are lucrative for such scammers because we rarely have the acumen to deal directly with the tax authorities.
And once you reveal the information that they need, it opens the door for a chain of fraud. Because their criminal activities are not a one-time activity once they have access to your tax and other personal records. It opens you to the danger involved in identity theft. Scammers can use such information to cheat you even in the future till you act upon it. But for that, you have to at least realize that you have been scammed.
Thieves can steal from your account or intercept stimulus checks posing as IRS agents and charge you for fake services, fines, and penalties.
The scammers then use such information to either directly steal from you, or sell them to people and organizations who will use it for dishonest means.
Tax Scams And Stimulus Check Frauds That Could Target You Each Tax Season
One of the common types of scams employed by scammers is phishing. It is a form of scam email that is designed to steal your personal information. Scammers will send you emails that you could mistake as being sent by the Internal Revenue Service. They often have threatening or urgent subject lines demanding that you pay them immediately. Otherwise, you are threatened with severe penal action.
Many people fall for the urgency and click on the link of the phishing scam. Such links immediately take you to hoax websites that promise you great returns.
Any information that you share with such hoax sites including your credit card numbers, and your Social Security numbers is stored in their records. Such information will be stored for immediate or future use.
By clicking on such links you can even end up with malware in your system that can steal information or let scammers gain illegal access to your email address. One simple yardstick to detect scam mail is that it does not come with a .gov address.
The use of an antivirus or a VPN will protect your device against such malware and viruses.
Direct Call From Scammers Can Relieve Your Money
Scammers use robocalls and bots to send thousands of calls at once that conceal that they are from a non-government source. When you answer such calls, callers say that you owe them taxes and demand immediate payment.
You end up being threatened with arrest. They even try to gain access to your Child Tax Credit stimulus check information which they will trick you into sharing. But the information you are sharing will go out directly to a scammer and not to the IRS.
Always inspect the “From” name when you click on any link in an email. Scammers continuously change their addresses and make the sites look genuine and deceive you into thinking that the message is coming from the IRS or other government agencies. But once you hover over the name or click on it, it will reveal the true nature of the link or website. If the mail is not from a .gov address, it is a scam.