Navigating the dangers of tax scams: Your ultimate protection guide

February 12th · 10 min read

Rotem Tal - Senior Cybersecurity Expert |Writer & Editor|
Rotem Tal - Senior Cybersecurity Expert |Writer & Editor|

Outsmart scammers for a safe tax season!

Ah, tax season: the time of year when coffee consumption spikes and our collective stress levels skyrocket, all thanks to the delightful task of figuring out those confusing tax forms. But just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, along come the taxing villains of the story—tax scammers. Picture this: while you're losing sleep over whether you've correctly calculated your deductions, there's a swindler out there, rubbing their hands together, plotting to swipe your hard-earned cash and, just for kicks, your identity too.

They're slick, they’re crafty, and use your tax-time terrors to swipe sensitive info and file bogus tax returns in your name. And the plot thickens: The IRS identified $5.7 billion in tax fraud in 2022 alone. Fast forward to 2024, and it seems we're stuck in a sequel no one asked for, with tax scams more rampant than ever.

The IRS identified over $5.5 billion in tax-related scams and flagged more than 1 million tax returns for identity fraud in 2023.

Now, let's face it: most of us aren't exactly tax wizards. We're just trying to make it through tax season without pulling our hair out. So, the million-dollar question (or, potentially, the size of your tax refund question) is: how can you spot a tax scam, an IRS impersonator, or any of the various schemes these scammers design to make off with your dough during tax season?

Well, we’re glad you asked because, in this article, we're about to lay bare the latest and greatest (or should we say, the worst and most cunning) tax scams that are lurking around the corner in 2024. But we won't stop there! Oh no, we're also going to arm you with tips to spot these devious schemes from a mile away. And for the cherry on top, we'll show you how cybersecurity tools for tax scams like Guardio can be your digital shield against the scandalous plots of tax season scammers. So, buckle up, and let's tackle tax season head-on!

Worried about tax scams?

Deduct stress and add security this tax season with Guardio!


What are tax scams?

We all file taxes yearly, and what a lot of people might not know is that there are criminals working overtime during tax season, devising sneaky ways to steal your cash and personal information. Imagine minding your own business, daydreaming about how you'll spend your tax refund when suddenly, you receive a call. The voice on the other end, dripping with authority, introduces themselves as an IRS agent. With a script that could rival any Hollywood thriller, they weave a tale of unpaid taxes, impending doom, and the urgent need for your personal information to "verify your identity" and "resolve the issue." It's a performance designed to induce panic, cloud your judgment, and coax you into divulging sensitive details like your Social Security number, bank account information, or even direct access to your hard-earned cash.

The moment they possess your information, the real scam begins. These criminals can then drain your bank accounts, open new credit lines in your name, or even file fraudulent tax returns, claiming your refund before you realize it's gone. Suddenly, you're not just an unwitting participant in their scam; you're left grappling with the fallout, facing potential financial ruin and a compromised identity that could take years to fully recover from. Their ultimate aim? To transform the trust you place in official communications into a weapon against you, turning your anticipation of a tax refund into a nightmare of loss and betrayal.

Why are these scams as popular as a blockbuster hit among criminals, you ask? Well, it's simple: most of us would rather watch paint dry than interact with the IRS, making us easy targets for these con artists. The moment they get their hands on your information, it's like they've struck gold. Suddenly, they have the keys to the kingdom—your kingdom—potentially leading to a sequel filled with fraud and identity theft.

Sadly, these scammers don't stop there. They might play the role of the IRS demanding payment or offer to fast-track your refund for a fee, starring in a performance that could deceive even the savviest of us. Before you know it, they've filed a tax claim in your name, pocketed your refund, and perhaps even taken your personal details to the dark web, where your identity becomes the star of its own unwanted spinoffs, featuring unauthorized cameo appearances in various acts of tax-related identity theft.

The sneaky suspects: 2024 top tax scams

You're comfortably settled in, enjoying a quiet evening, casually browsing through your emails. Out of the blue, an email pops up, seemingly from the IRS. At first glance, the email is convincing—complete with urgent language and official-looking logos that seem to leap off the screen, demanding your immediate attention. Welcome to the world of tax phishing scams that try to dupe you into giving up personal details on websites as fake as a unicorn in a business suit. That's just a glimpse into the cunning arsenal of tricks scammers deploy during tax season. But wait, there's more! Here are some prime examples of tax scams you absolutely need to watch out for in 2024:

  • Dialing for deductions: Similar to the scenario we mentioned above, this is when someone calls you and imitates an IRS agent, claiming you owe them money, pressing for immediate payment. But here's the deal: the IRS doesn’t make these kinds of cold calls. Wanna play Sherlock or Nancy Drew?

Request a reference number, then hang up and call the IRS back on their official line. Think of it as dodging a bullet, financially speaking.

  • The disappearing tax clerk: In this scenario, you hire someone to file your taxes, and they disappear with your return and possibly your identity. The lesson? Make sure the person filing your taxes has the credentials to back up their claims, or your tax return might just perform a vanishing act.

  • Phishy IRS emails: Picture flipping through your emails when suddenly, you spot one that claims to be from the "IRS," buzzing with urgency. The email is skillfully crafted with official-looking logos, convincing language, and a sense of immediacy that could make even the most skeptical reader pause. It mimics the IRS's tone and format so well that the alarm bells in your head don't even begin to ring. Without a second thought, you're drawn in by the illusion of legitimacy, believing you're dealing with a genuine IRS communication. It's only when you click through, enticed by the call to action, that the reality of the situation becomes clear. It's a trap, leading you to a fake website where your personal info is up for grabs.

A quick tip: don’t click on any links, and If the email doesn't end with ".gov," it’s probably fake. It’s also always a good idea to have cybersecurity software for tax scams like Guardio on your browser and mobile. It’s like having a digital watchdog that barks whenever phishing emails try to sneak into your yard, plus it slams the gate shut on any sneaky, fake links trying to lure you in. With Guardio on your side, you can stroll through tax season with a bit more peace of mind, knowing you've got a trusty guard keeping those phishing scams away.

Tax season doesnt have to be scam season

Guardio makes tax season a breeze by shielding you from phishing scams and identity theft!

  • The mythical refund mirage: Out of nowhere, an email or ad promises an extra refund with just a click. But in reality, it's a mirage leading nowhere to a fake website that tricks you into giving away your personal information. So if you ever come across something like this, keep in mind that the IRS is more of a paper trail than a digital chase when it comes to refunds.

  • Stimulus scam shuffle: A message pops up, promising late stimulus checks with a side of "just verify your info." Spoiler: the IRS won't email you out of the blue with promises of money. To get the low down of any communication from the IRS, and to check if it’s legit, log into your account.

  • Tax agency imposters: Beware of calls from supposed tax agencies like the "Taxpayer Advocate Service," ready to "help" out of the blue. It's a classic scam signal. Always verify by hanging up and calling an official government number.

  • Crypto payment ploy: Now, scammers are asking for tax payments in cryptocurrency, which is as far-fetched as it gets. Just so we're clear, the IRS is still all about those dollar bills, not digital coins.

  • The overpayment charade: Imagine a call claiming the IRS sent you too much money and now wants it back in gift cards. Yes, it's as ludicrous as it sounds. Remember, the IRS and gift cards mix about as well as oil and water.

  • Compromise conundrum: Scammers might promise an easy out from your tax debts through the Offer in Compromise program, even if you don't qualify. Before you get swept up, use the IRS’s tool to check your real eligibility.

Remember, during tax season, staying informed and skeptical is your best defense. Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be all set for a scam-free tax season as serene as a Sunday morning crossword puzzle.

Stay safe during tax season

Dodging tax scams like a boss

Now that you've had a peak at the scammer's playbook, let's arm you with some tax scam protection strategies to sidestep these pitfalls, ensuring your tax journey is secure.

Trust, but verify: If the IRS supposedly emails or texts you asking for personal info, raise an eyebrow. The real IRS isn't sliding into your DMs for your details.

Keep your secrets, secret: Think of your personal information like your favorite snack – you wouldn't just share it with anyone, right? Same goes here.

Get a second opinion: Uncertain about a tax-related message? Hit up a legit tax pro or check directly with the IRS before you do anything.

Choose your digital hangouts wisely: Filing your taxes online? Make sure you're using a platform that's as secure as Fort Knox.

Armed with these golden nuggets of wisdom, you're practically a ninja in the art of tax scam protection. But wait, there's one more trick up your sleeve – the digital shield known as cybersecurity software for tax scams like Guardio. Think of it like having a superhero sidekick who’s always on patrol, keeping a watchful eye on the shadows of the internet where scammers lurk.

Guardio isn't just another piece of cybersecurity software against tax scams cluttering up your digital toolbox; it's like having a superhero sidekick in the epic saga of tax season. Here’s a breakdown of how Guardio swoops in to save the day from those sneaky tax scammers:

Scam detection: Guardio scans the web and will immediately alert you about phishing sites posing as the IRS, ensuring you're warned about deceptive websites before they can trick you.

Personal information protection: Guardio protects your personal details from being stolen by cybercriminals and will let you know if your data is ever leaked or breached.

Safe browsing: With Guardio, your internet browsing is more secure. It helps you avoid malicious sites and potential scams, ensuring a safer online experience.

Text scam filtering: Guardio filters out text scams by identifying and blocking fraudulent messages related to tax scams, giving you that additional layer of security on your mobile device.

Email phishing protection: Guardio guards your inbox against phishing attempts, identifying and warning you about suspicious emails that aim to harvest your personal and financial information.

With Guardio by your side, you can navigate tax season with confidence, knowing you've got top-notch protection against whatever scheme the scammers throw your way. Consider it your secret weapon for a scam-free tax season.

Does something smell fishy? Report it! If you stumble upon a scam, don't just brush it off. Report it to the IRS. Got a weird phishing email? Forward it to Your shoutout could help put the brakes on these scammers.

The bottom line

Keeping your info safe from scammers is all about staying alert, using common sense, and arming yourself with the right tools (shoutout to Guardio). Remember, your personal info is precious. Protect it like you would your grandma's secret cookie recipe. Stay savvy, stay secure, and here's to a scam-free tax season!

Wave goodbye to tax scams

Deduct stress and add security this tax season with Guardio!

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