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How to Detect Scams During Tax Time

Protect Yourself from Scammers Posing as the IRS

It’s that time of the year when you are beginning to think about filing your taxes. You’re likely receiving your W2’s and 1099’s in the mail and beginning to collect documentation for deductions: childcare expenses, education costs, home mortgage interest, and charitable donations.

Fraudsters enjoy nothing more than targeting stressed and preoccupied consumers during this season. That’s why Elements is here to help you identify potential scams so you can avoid becoming a victim.

Do you know how to look out for common tax scams? Here are some tips to keep in mind to avoid them:

The IRS will not call, text, or email you to ask for your information.

If you have questions about a call or email you receive claiming to be tax-related, reach out directly to the IRS by visiting their website at and using their published contact information.1

Charity scams become more common during this time.

Scammers will try to convince you to “donate” to their charities in exchange for tax benefits. These scams can be recognized by verifying the organization. Phony charity websites usually have signs of a scam, such as the lack of a mission statement, a board of directors listing, or contact information.1

Scammers create a sense of urgency.

If a scammer reaches out to you, they will commonly express a sense of urgency and threat of punishment. Common trends include threatening you with jail time or even saying police are on their way unless you pay immediately.1

Phishing emails are more common during this time and might use common tax preparer software names to appear legitimate.

Common scams include emails that appear to come from tax preparers such as TurboTax with links that take you to websites that capture your personal information. These sites take your data and use it to open accounts or even file fraudulent taxes in your name.1

While this list includes some of the most common scams, there are many more, and it is important for you to be vigilant. If you feel that you’ve fallen for a scam, there are resources to support you:

  • Contact your credit union or bank immediately: If you sent the scammer any money or account information, call your financial institution and let them know that you have experienced fraud. Ask them to cancel the transaction, and if it has already gone through, follow the instructions to dispute the payment in an effort to get your money back.3
  • Freeze your credit reports: Scams that steal your personal information and not just your money can be dangerous when it comes to your credit rating. If you feel that personal information becomes compromised for any reason, freeze your credit immediately. Doing so will block the scammer from opening any accounts using your information, which could tarnish your credit score.3
  • Report tax-related scams or IRS-related phishing: You can report tax scams to the IRS by emailing, or report them to the Treasury Inspector General Administration (TIGTA). For more information about reporting tax scams, visit

Have questions or need assistance reporting a tax scam? Our credit union experts are always here for you. Contact Elements Financial for support of all your financial needs during tax time and year-round.


  1. Norton
  2. IRS
  3. Federal Trade Commission

Consult a tax advisor for tax advice.

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