Pennsylvanians Warned to Stay Vigilant Against IRS Imposter Scams This Tax Season

tax scam© designer491 / Getty Images Pro / Canva

HARRISBURG, PA — As the tax season unfolds, Pennsylvanians are being urged to exercise caution against a pernicious scam that has been wreaking havoc across the nation – Internal Revenue Service (IRS) imposter scams. Attorney General Michelle Henry issued a warning to residents, urging them to be aware of these scams and to remain vigilant during the upcoming tax filing period.

Scammers, exploiting the stress and confusion often associated with tax season, impersonate the IRS to extract personal information or money from unsuspecting taxpayers. These imposters employ various tactics, such as unsolicited text messages, emails, or phone calls, often demanding immediate payment or personal information.

“It is that time of year — for scammers to take advantage of tax filers by posing as federal government agents,” Attorney General Henry said. “Scams are getting more and more sophisticated, so be extra careful with whom you engage and how you provide sensitive information. Remember that the scammers’ intent is to make targets feel pressured and even frightened.”

These imposters often aim to trick taxpayers into believing they owe back taxes or that a tax rebate is due. A new trend has emerged this year, with scammers targeting college students, attempting to scare them into believing that an unpaid ‘federal student tax’ is due immediately.

To counter these nefarious attempts, the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General and the IRS strongly recommend filing taxes early. Doing so can prevent scammers from using any personal information to file a fraudulent tax return.

The IRS, in its communication, stresses certain practices it does not engage in, including initiating contact via email, text messages, or phone calls for personal or financial information. The agency also does not demand specific types of payment such as cash, cryptocurrency, prepaid debit cards, gift cards, or wire transfers. Additionally, the IRS will not leave pre-recorded, urgent, or threatening messages on an answering system and will not immediately threaten to sue or arrest you.

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Staying protected goes beyond recognizing these behaviors. Never click on any unsolicited communication claiming to be from the IRS, as it may contain dangerous software or malware. Be aware that scammers can spoof phone numbers, making a call appear to be from the IRS when it is not. If you do not owe taxes and receive a suspicious call, don’t provide any information, hang up immediately, and report the call to phishing@irs.gov.

To check if you owe taxes, call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040 or review your tax account at IRS.gov. Early filing can thwart scammers from using your information and filing fraudulently.

For those who believe they have been victimized by this scam, or have any questions, the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection can be contacted by visiting their website, emailing scams@attorneygeneral.gov, or calling 1-800-441-2555.

In the face of increasingly sophisticated scams, vigilance and awareness are key. As Pennsylvanians navigate through the tax season, staying cautious and informed can help them avoid falling prey to these insidious scams.

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