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It’s officially here… Tax season that is. According to the IRS, more than 162 million federal income taxes were processed last season and there is anticipation that there will be even more to come this year. As if tax season isn’t taxing enough for Americans, scammers and fraudsters have found a way to work their schemes into the mix. At ORNL Federal Credit Union, we take the security of your financial well-being very seriously. Below are five tax scams and fraud to be on the lookout for this spring. 

The IRS does not contact you through email, text messages, or social media platforms to request personal information. 

Oftentimes, scammers will utilize social media to disguise themselves as IRS agents. They will make many false claims—such as alleging you are behind on your tax payments—and all they need is a payment method to settle the claim. The IRS will never utilize the platforms listed above as a means of communication; they will only contact you through the mail. 

Mailing Scams

Speaking of mail, scammers know that this is the IRS’ primary means of communication. According to the IRS, one of the top trending mail scams involves fraudsters sending people a letter claiming they have an unclaimed refund. This type of letter is typically sent in a cardboard envelope that reads, “Unclaimed Refund.” What are some of the red flags to watch out for with this scam? One is the use of fake IRS phone numbers and addresses. For the IRS’ correct contact information, you can visit their website at The biggest red flag to look for is a request to send a photo of a driver’s license or other ID. The IRS will never ask you to do this. 

Fake Charities

Scammers are aware of the typical tax trends. They know that many consumers make donations to charities and that this often leads to a tax write-off. Oftentimes, they will pretend to be a charitable organization in hopes that you will make a donation. To verify legitimate charities, utilize the Tax-Exempt Organization Search (TEOS).

Impersonation Phone Calls

With this tactic, fraudsters pretend to be IRS agents on the phone. They typically will use fake names along with false identification numbers. So, what are the red flags with this scam? Be on the lookout for these people claiming that you are behind on tax payments and that you can simply take care of it by making your payment through wire transfers or gift cards. The IRS will never call you to inform you of your current tax situation nor will they ask you to make payments via wire transfers or gift cards. 

Ghost Preparers 

We know tax season can be daunting enough, but add in a scam and that’s just downright frightful. When a consumer is working with a tax preparer, such as a CPA, that person must sign the consumer’s tax return before filing. This is for liability reasons along with legitimacy verification. A ghost preparer will oftentimes help prepare the tax return and include false information in hopes for a higher tax refund that they can take a piece of. So, what is the biggest red flag here? These people will not sign your tax return. If they do not sign the tax return, there are questionable reasons as to why. 

At ORNL FCU we are always happy to help or answer any questions. If you have any questions in regards to financial education or our services, please contact us. 
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