Not a day goes by, it seems, without news of another scam or data breech. Unfortunately, since our real lives are now entirely intertwined with our online presence, criminals will continue to push the boundaries in a continuing game of cat and mouse.
The latest round of scams uses some old techniques combined with artificial intelligence (AI) to impersonate the IRS. We all receive phishing messages, but these are particularly convincing. The IRS logo and email format look like real IRS messages, and the message may be a mix of true and inaccurate information.
The goal, of course, is to trick unsuspecting taxpayers into clicking a link and giving away their personal information. Here are a few of the latest ways scammers are preying on American taxpayers.
1. "New Economic Impact Payment”
New Economic Impact Payment”: Scammers know that free money is a source of temptation. There were three rounds of Economic Impact Payments during the pandemic.
The last round of “stimulus” payments occurred two years ago. There have been no new Economic Impact Payments since 2021.
2. Eligible for the ERC
“You may be eligible for the ERC”: The Employee Retention Credit or ERTC was part of the Cares Act and its subsequent amendments.
This is a credit that eligible business owners may claim against employee payroll taxes paid during a certain period. This is not a credit available to individuals.
There are a number of scams that the IRS is currently investigating regarding the ERTC.
3. Claim Your Tax Refund
“Claim your tax refund online”: The only way to get a refund is to file your tax return. Taxpayers who filed returns will receive their refunds once they have been processed.
The “Where’s my Refund?” site on the IRS website (https://www.irs.gov/refunds) is the best place for taxpayers to research the status of their federal refunds.
State refunds are handled by the individual state Department of Revenue or its equivalent.
4. Fix It
“Fix-it”: These emails and text messages claim that there is a problem with a taxpayer’s return, which is holding up their refund.
By clicking on the link, a third party can “fix” the issue and resolve the problem. Look for misspellings and factual inaccuracies in these messages.
5. Courier or USPS delivered mail
Courier or USPS delivered mail: Cardboard envelopes are arriving at taxpayers’
residences regarding “your unclaimed refund.”
Since the IRS does use the US mail for taxpayer correspondence, these are particularly convincing.