Taking Back the ID

Tax season has ended but scams haven't

Fraudsters have invented new themes on old schemes. They threaten to suspend Social Security numbers or tell victims they owe money to fake government organizations.

Misty Franklin filed her tax return on time, so she felt confident that she had a full year to file her next one. Unfortunately, she didn’t understand that she’d jumped the gun. A credit card company sent her a bill showing a large balance on her “new account,” and payment was due. Misty was stunned. She hadn’t requested the credit card, so she immediately called the company to find out what had happened. The company representative told her that someone had probably stolen her U.S. Social Security number (SSN) and used it to purchase the “new” credit card. The company launched an investigation and later told her that it had deleted the credit card from its system, and she didn’t owe a balance.

However, she later remembered that the U.S. Internal Revenue System (IRS) had supposedly called to tell her that she owed back taxes and threatened to suspend her SSN if she didn’t wire funds to “pay off the balance due.” She realized that a fraudster had scammed her. In addition to losing the wire money, she now had to worry about her compromised SSN.

Misty’s case is fictional, but the scenario illustrates a common occurrence related to a new version of a tax-related scam. You’d think that tax scams would diminish after tax season ends. Guess what? They’re continuing with vigor. Fraudsters continue developing new versions of tax scams to catch people off guard and steal their personally identifiable information (PII) and money. Victims whose PII is compromised are vulnerable to other types of scams, including attacks on their bank accounts. U.S. taxpayers should be aware of these emerging versions of tax-related scams, which crooks normally deliver via phishing emails and telephone.

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