Scams Feed

Photo by Marten Newhall on Unsplash The biggest recent scam story had nothing to do with taxes. It was the confession of a financial advice journalist of how she fell for an elaborate con job that ended with her putting $50,000 in cash in a box and handing it to a stranger. The crooks kicked off that scam by calling the writer, recounting enough of her personal information to get her hooked. It was all downhill from there, with an outrageous combination of purported government agencies, including a CIA impersonator. IRS security still suspect: We're all told to protect our... Read more →


Crooks know you're anxiously awaiting your tax refund. That's why this filing season they're again impersonating Internal Revenue Service agents. The latest refund scam is an email or text about your tax refund or tax refund e-statement. In both cases, warns the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the messages are efforts to steal your identity and money. As in previous incarnations, these latest fake IRS messages encourage recipients to click a link, supposedly to "check on your tax refund e-statement," or "fill out a form to get your refund." The FTC provided the image below of one of these fake IRS... Read more →


Tax laws are full of unintended consequences. That became painfully clear during the COVID-19 pandemic, when a variety of tax relief provisions were created to help individuals and businesses deal with the virus' economic effects. Such was the case with the Employee Retention Credit, or ERC. "The ERC provided a financial lifeline to millions of businesses and exempt organizations during the pandemic," said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel in his prepared testimony for the Feb. 15 hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee. "The IRS has worked hard to implement this credit, and we have processed about 3.6 million ERC... Read more →


In February 2022, the Internal Revenue Service stopped issuing several automatic tax notices. The move was prompted in large part by the massive backlog of tax filings that piled up when the agency closed offices as a precaution early in the COVID-19 pandemic. That tax notice moratorium is ending. Automated collection notices will soon show up in the mailboxes of individuals with tax debts prior to tax year 2022. Businesses, tax exempt organizations, trusts, and estates with tax debts prior to 2023, with exceptions for those with existing debt in multiple years, also are on the notice resumption list. These... Read more →


Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich A new tax season also brings the resurgences of tax scams. The Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners earlier this month alerted tax professionals to watch out for a new round of filing season-related email schemes where cybercriminals pose as potential clients. Now FinCEN, the Treasury Department bureau that focuses on financial crimes, notably money laundering and terrorism, reports that there have been fraudulent attempts to obtain information from individuals and entities who may have to comply with new Corporate Transparency Act reporting requirements. Here's a look at these two schemes popping up as... Read more →


Only 80% of wrongly-claimed Employee Retention Credit amounts must be repaid. Photo by Anastasiia Chepinska on Unsplash We're all aware of the continuing medical issues from long COVID. The coronavirus' tax effects appear to be just as persistent. The Internal Revenue Service is still dealing with law changes enacted to provide pandemic relief. The Employee Retention Credit, or ERC, is one of them. This refundable business tax credit was designed for companies that continued paying employees during the COVID-19 pandemic despite financial hardship. To qualify, the businesses were either fully or partially suspended due to a government order, or had... Read more →


This pup looks like he's asking it it's time to open gifts. (Photo by Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images) Next Monday morning, Dec. 25, many families will welcome a new member. I'm talking, of course, about a pet. A puppy, kitten, or other pet of any type of age can be a wonderful addition to a home. Pros and cons of pets as presents: But many animal groups and veterinarians warn against giving a pet, especially as a surprise, during the holidays. This already is a stressful time for many, and if everyone who will be involved in the... Read more →


Photo by Grant Durr on Unsplash 🌟 Billions of dollars in fraud. 🌟 Victims across the globe. 🌟 🌟 Criminals who are all about personal gain. 🌟 No, that's not the opening voiceover in a trailer for a new Netflix true crime series, although I'd watch it if it were. It's from IRS Criminal Investigation Chief Jim Lee's comments on his unit's top 10 cases of 2023. Those three opening elements, said Lee, are the crux of CI's biggest busts last year. "When I say our team at CI is the best at following the money trail, I mean it,"... Read more →


More than 20,000 businesses are about to learn how serious the Internal Revenue Service is about stopping questionable Employee Retention Credit (ERC) claims. The tax agency has sent them a letter notifying them that they won't be getting the COVID-19 pandemic tax relief. Many of the claims were filed by ERC mills that have aggressively promoted the tax relief, often to businesses that did not qualify. The amount of such questionable claims prompted the IRS in September to stop processing all new claims. This first round of IRS letters to some of those who did file for the ERC is... Read more →


Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images The Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners today wrapped up the eighth annual National Tax Security Awareness Week with a warning for everyone, individual taxpayers and tax pros, to stay alert to emerging tax scams. It's a message the group issues regularly throughout the year because con artists work year-round to steal our money and, in many cases, our identities. Once they get that personal data, they can file fake tax returns to try to collect fraudulent refunds. By now, most of us are well aware of the warning signs of scams... Read more →


Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash Most taxpayers get federal tax refunds. Internal Revenue Service data complete through Oct. 27 shows that the agency received 160.5 million returns and issued nearly 105 million refunds that totaled more than $319 billion. Not surprisingly, taxpayers who are getting cash back from Uncle Sam are among the first to file every tax season. That's also a good security move. By getting their 1040 forms to the IRS early, they beat the criminals who might try to file fake returns under their names to claim their or even bigger fraudulent refunds. But some folks... Read more →


Photo via Unsplash+ in collaboration with Andrej Lišakov The official holiday shopping season is officially underway. So is the identity theft season, which could cause lots of problems for shoppers at tax time. I know about the shopping season because my email box is overflowing with "Buy Now!" and "Bargains, Bargains, Bargains" and "Get 40% Off!" messages, mostly for stuff I have no intention of buying at any price. I know about the tax threat because next week, Nov. 27 through Dec. 1, is the eighth annual National Tax Security Awareness week. During these coming five days, just as online... Read more →


People are increasingly falling for a new scam known as pig butchering. The scheme involves cryptocurrency purchases, and the promised outcome is as reliable as flying pigs. (Photo by Daniel Novykov on Unsplash) The Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (CI) unit has some advice as the holiday season nears. Don't be a pig. No, the warning has nothing to do with over-eating, starting with next week's Thanksgiving spreads. Rather, IRS CI says crooks are reaching out on social media, typically seeking those looking for romantic partners, to get the targeted victims' help in cryptocurrency schemes. These targets, whom the fraudsters... Read more →


Photo by Anya Batalova on Unsplash We don't get many — OK, not any — kids dressed as ghosts on Halloween night. Our neighborhood's youngsters seem to prefer dressing as comic book icons turned movie characters. Heck, last week I even saw an adult, or a very tall teen, dressed as Spiderman, full-face mask included, during my last grocery store visit. But that's for another blog post. Or a call to the local authorities. Getting back to ghosts, notably those with tax connections. As I mentioned in an earlier post, ghost employees and ghost employers can wreak havoc when it... Read more →


Things can get even more complicated if you're donating to international relief efforts and plan to claim your gift as a tax deduction. World Central Kitchen (WCK) workers are among the first in areas in need of relief, like here delivering meals with the help of nonprofit partners in Beit Shemesh, Israel. WCK staff also are already on their way to Acapulco, Mexico, where Hurricane Otis made landfall as a powerful Category 5 early today. (Photo credit: World Central Kitchen/WCK.org) Sometimes, like today, it seems as if the whole world is totally out of control. In the past few weeks,... Read more →


Small businesses' many challenges were multiplied during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) helped many companies and their workers make it through that lean time. But recently, unscrupulous promoters have pushed some owners to improperly claim the ERC, creating new problems. Now the IRS is offering a way to correct those bad filings. (Image via Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images) The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) helped lots of small businesses and their staff make it through the COVID-19 pandemic. When properly claimed, the ERC is a refundable tax credit designed for businesses that continued paying employees while... Read more →


Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash Businesses who applied for the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) aren’t the only ones upset with the Internal Revenue Service’s handling of claims. So are the Republican leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee. Rep. Jason Smith (R-Missouri), chairman of the tax-writing panel, and Rep. David Schweikert (R-Arizona), chair of the W&M Oversight Subcommittee, this week wrote to IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel demanding an update on the ERC processing backlog. The ERC, also sometimes referred to as the Employee Retention Tax Credit or ERTC, was created during the COVID-19 pandemic to help businesses and... Read more →


This summer, the Internal Revenue Service warned us of a surge of tax scams. Identity thieves were sending a barrage of email and text messages promising tax refunds or offers to help fix tax problems. Apparently, the scammers are continuing into the fall. Fake IRS text: I got the fake IRS text at left this week. This crook apparently was trying to convince me to click on the StatementClaim.pdf document. I was curious, but not that curious. However, I did like how the crook tried to pique my interest by annotating the fake text as an internal tax agency message.... Read more →


Photo by Max Burchill on Unsplash To paraphrase a gazillion social media posts, exploitative people are why we can't have needed tax breaks. OK, Congress plays a big part. And the Internal Revenue Service too often steps on its own tax toes. But in many cases, unscrupulous people mess things up for the rest of us who are just trying to comply with tax laws and get a little bit of legitimate tax relief along the way. That's what happened with the Employee Retention Credit (ERC). This refundable tax credit was created by lawmakers to help businesses that were struggling... Read more →


What a fun Monday. The hubby and I spent much of the morning setting up free credit monitoring accounts related to recent healthcare data breaches. Then we each ordered a free credit report to see if miscreants had been pretending to be either of us. I suspect we are not alone in taking identity theft precautions. The HIPAA Journal reports there was a 261 percent month-over-month increase in breached healthcare records in July. More than 18 million records were exposed in 56 reported incidents. The incredibly high total was due to a major data breach at HCA Healthcare that saw... Read more →