Keeping You Informed: Tax Refund Scams to Watch for in 2023

Tax season, for many, is one of the most stressful times of the year. After all, not only do you have a deadline by which you have to file your taxes, you have to worry about collecting all of your financial information and ensuring that you file everything correctly. This can be particularly overwhelming if you also have a business to worry about.

If that wasn’t a big enough headache, this is the time of the year during which you need to watch out for tax refund scams. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued warnings about one type of scam in particular: IRS-themed texting scams known as “smishing” attacks (a blended term derived from SMS phishing AKA text phishing.)

Business man sitting at desk looking concerned at computer while holding papers

What Are Smishing Attacks?

Smishing attacks are a form of phishing, which is a type of cyber attack that uses deceptive emails, text messages, or phone calls to try and get you to provide sensitive personal information. In this case, the attackers use IRS-themed text messages that appear to be coming from the IRS or other government entities.

Scammers using these fraudulent texts will request personal financial information, such as account numbers. These types of scams became popular during the pandemic, during which people became more used to — and more comfortable with — communicating via text messaging and other digital platforms.

It’s important to remember that the IRS will never contact you via text message, email, or phone and ask for your personal information. If you receive a suspicious text message asking for your information, don’t reply: a legitimate IRS communication will never ask for your personal information in this manner.

Additional Tax Return Scams To Watch Out For

Unfortunately, smishing attacks aren’t the only tax return scam to look out for this year.

  • Fake tax preparers: There are many tax return preparers who are unqualified and will take advantage of unsuspecting consumers by charging exorbitant fees and offering inadequate services. Be sure to only work with licensed, experienced tax preparers who have a good track record.

  • Fake claims: If you receive any messages, whether via text, email, or phone, claiming that your social security number has been suspended, that you owe money, or that you’re owed a larger tax return, be wary: these are fake claims and attempts to acquire your personal information. Some of these fake claims may even demand “tax” payments in the form of cryptocurrency.

  • Offer in Compromise: Beware of anyone who promises you an “offer in compromise,” which is a settlement that many taxpayers are eligible for if they cannot pay their full tax bill. Scammers may promise you an offer in compromise that is too good to be true, and they will typically ask for an advance fee or personal information in exchange for their services.

Be Wary Of Potential Tax Return Scams

By being aware of the common tax return scams floating around out there, you can protect yourself and your finances. Remember: never give out sensitive information over text, email, or phone. If you’re unsure about a message you’ve received, or are concerned about your tax return filing process, contact the IRS directly and speak with a tax professional. Additionally, it’s always wise to consult a reputable tax preparer when filing your taxes.

For more information on how you can protect yourself and your business against scams or on how to protect sensitive financial data and personal information, check out our AccuShred blog.