Most Americans are serious about paying taxes, and scammers often take advantage of it. Scams commonly increase around holiday times and tax filing time, causing consumers to lose money. Consumers in Texas should be aware of scams that the IRS warns about.

Imposter scams

Phishing scams occur when a scammer claims to be from a legitimate business or agency, such as the IRS. However, the email will direct the consumer to the scammer’s website and ask for financial information, and some websites could install malware.

Some scammers may send letters, text or call the taxpayer demanding that they wire the money and give them debit or credit card numbers. The IRS does not send unsolicited correspondence by email, nor does it ask for financial information or demand immediate payment.

Tax return preparer scams

Tax return preparer scams involve reporting false information on the taxpayer. Tax preparers who break tax law have been tried in court and prohibited from preparing returns or operating a return preparation service.

The scammer uses the taxpayers’ information to steal refunds, or they charge a fee and never prepare the return. They may also tell the taxpayer to take unearned credits to boost their refund, placing the taxpayer at risk of audits.

Offer in compromise scams

An offer in compromise scam promises taxpayers that they will settle their tax debt for much less than they owe. The catch is an excessive fee for their services.

Taxpayers may work with the IRS on an offer in compromise. However, the IRS only accepts offers if they think they can collect it in reasonable time, and not everyone qualifies. Taxpayers can check to see if they qualify beforehand using a pre-qualifier tool to get an estimate.

Consumers who think they have been victims of a scam may contact the Treasury Inspector General Administration. If they have received an audit, they should be prepared to show evidence that they were scammed.