Consumers lost $80 million in tax fraud scams

If someone offered to do taxes for free or offered a major filing discount, many consumers would be hard-pressed not to take it. But the Internal Revenue Service is reminding consumers that tax season also means scam season.

Though many consumers believe they won’t be the victim of a scam, IRS scams alone are becoming increasingly prevalent. “We have received more than 2.5 million complaints, with a total financial loss of $79 million as of Feb. 1, 2020,” said special agent in charge Rodney Davis.

Davis, with the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, said if someone really has a tax obligation, they’ll hear from the IRS through the mail, likely not the phone. He spoke during an AARP event on government impostor scams.

“The caller ID may look legitimate, but you can’t trust caller ID anymore,” Davis said.

And, he added, they would never ask you to pay over the phone, share your personal or banking information, or keep the transaction secret as a scammer would.

The AARP event did not identify any specific scams consumers needed to watch out for trending now.

“Remember that anyone calling who claims to be from the government, who asks you to wire money, pay with a gift card or send cash, is a scammer always,” said U.S. Attorney for Maryland Robert Hur.

Those who think they’ve been scammed can file a report with the Federal Trade Commission online.

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Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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