Don’t be a victim of an IRS imposter scam – Wells Fargo

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Steer clear of IRS imposter scams

Learn to spot scams and avoid tax fraud.

Imposter scams that lead to tax fraud and identity theft typically increase during tax season. Take steps to help avoid common tax scams that can negatively impact your financial well-being. 

Scam #1: Phishing

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reports that phishing schemes are a continuing problem. Phishing is an attempt to obtain a payment or sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and account details by scammers impersonating a reputable company via email, text message, or social media. Once acquired, your personal or account information can be used to access your account and steal money.

Learn how to spot fake IRS messages.

What you should know:

  • If you receive an email claiming to be from the IRS requesting personal or account information, or tax payment due, do not: reply, click on any links, or open any attachments, which may contain malicious software.
  • 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.
  • 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: Fraudulent phone calls

Scammers, posing as the IRS, call claiming you owe taxes. They may demand that you settle the bogus tax bill by sending money through a gift card, prepaid debit card, or wire transfer. 

What you should know:

Do not engage in conversation 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

Even if the caller has the last four digits of your Social Security number or other identifiable information, do not share any additional information.

If you are uncomfortable with a request on a phone call that you did not initiate, do not respond. Instead, hang up immediately and 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 1-800-366-4484

Know that the IRS will not:

  • Ask you to pay your taxes 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 personal or account information by email, text, or social media.

Scam #3: Identity theft

Scammers steal your personal and financial information for illegal or fraudulent activities, like filing a tax return in your name.

One growing identity theft scam involves criminals stealing client data from tax professionals or directly from you by obtaining your tax software logon information, filing a fraudulent tax return and having the refund deposited into your bank account. Then they use various methods to demand that you return the money over to them.

In one version, the scammers, pretending to be IRS debt collectors, contact you claiming a refund was deposited in error. Then they ask you to forward the money to their “collection agency”.

In another variant, you receive an automated phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS threatening you with criminal charges, an arrest warrant, and a “blacklisting” of your Social Security number if you do not return the refund. The caller then gives you a case number and phone number to call to return the money.

If you received an erroneous refund, find out how to legally return it.

What you should know:

  • 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 and account information on your computer or 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

Take action if you fall for a tax scam

  • Contact your financial institution to close any impacted account.
  • Report identity theft to and follow the steps to obtain your personalized recovery plan. 
  • If your Social Security number is stolen, contact the IRS and read about Social Security number theft.
  • File a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant and select “Imposter Scams.Rip-offs and Imposter Scams”.

For more information about the latest scams, review the IRS’ “Dirty Dozen” tax scams.

For additional tips to help protect yourself from fraud, visit the Security Center.

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