Imposter scams that lead to tax fraud and identity theft increase during tax season. Take steps to avoid common tax scams that can wreak havoc on your financial well-being.
Scam #1: Fake IRS tax notice
What is it?
This new scam is a form of phishing, an attempt to obtain a payment or sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and account details by impersonating a reputable company via email, text message, phone call, or social media. Once obtained, your personal or financial information can be used to access your account and steal money.
In this scam, you receive a fake IRS CP2000 notice via email or U.S. mail claiming you owe money as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Email “notices” may contain a payment link, which, once clicked, can infect your computer with a virus or lead to spoof websites requesting sensitive information. Mailed “notices” may request a check made out to “I.R.S.” Legitimate CP2000 notices ask taxpayers to make their checks out to “United States Treasury."
- Never provide passwords, account numbers, or personal information in response to emails or other messages. The IRS does not solicit information via email, text, or social media.
- Do not reply to suspicious emails or messages — delete them.
If you are a Wells Fargo customer and respond to a suspicious message by clicking a link, opening an attachment, or providing personal information, call us immediately at 1-866-867-5568.
Scam #2: Identity theft
What is it?
Scammers steal your personal information for illegal or fraudulent activities, like filing a tax return in your name.
- Use a unique username and password for tax filing software, and update them at least annually.
- Do not share your Social Security number with others unless absolutely necessary.
- Shred sensitive documents before discarding.
- Avoid storing personal information on your mobile devices.
- Review your credit report every year to confirm that the list of credit accounts is accurate. You can receive a free copy of your report every 12 months from each of the credit reporting agencies as well as AnnualCreditReport.com.
Scam #3: Fraudulent phone calls
What are they?
Scammers, posing as the IRS, call claiming you owe taxes or are due a refund.
Be wary of discussing financial information if the caller:
- Demands immediate payment
- Uses aggressive tactics, such as threatening arrest, deportation, or license revocation
- Requests credit, debit, or bank account numbers over the phone
- Appears legitimate by sharing the last four digits of your Social Security number or other identifiable information
To help protect yourself, never provide information to someone who calls or emails you first. Instead, contact the IRS directly to confirm the validity of the request. If you think it is a scam, call the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.
Know that the IRS will not:
- Ask you to pay using a gift card, pre-paid debit card, or wire transfer
- Threaten to immediately have you arrested or deported for not paying
- Initiate contact with you by email or through social media.
- Request sensitive information by email, texts, or social media.
If you fall for a tax scam
Take action immediately:
- File a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant; choose “Other” and then “Imposter Scams.” If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
- Report identity theft to IdentityTheft.gov, and follow the steps to obtain your personalized recovery plan.
- Contact your bank to close any affected accounts.
- If your Social Security number is stolen, contact the IRS. Read about Social Security number theft (PDF).
For more information about scams, read the IRS’ “Dirty Dozen” Tax Scams.
For more tips to help protect yourself from fraud, visit Wells Fargo's Fraud Information Center.
Empower yourself with financial knowledge
We’re committed to helping you be financially successful. Here you’ll find a wide range of helpful information, interactive tools, practical strategies, and more — all designed to help you increase your financial knowledge and reach your financial goals.