IRS releases list of the top tax scams of 2020

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(CNN/IRS)– The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) wants to help you protect your information from scammers. The Federal Agency releasing this year’s edition of what it calls the “Dirty Dozen” list, focusing on schemes related to Coronavirus tax relief.

The IRS says that among the 12 scams listed this year, the most common are phishing scams. Scammers send fake e-mails to your inbox or set up a fake website, hoping to steal your personal information.

Here’s a look at all 12 scams, according the Internal Revenue Service’s website:


The IRS says they will never contact taxpayers by email about a tax bill, refund, or Economic Impact Payments. Don’t click on links claiming to be from the IRS and be wary of emails and websites.

Fake Charities

Criminals frequently use natural disasters or other situations like the current COVID-19 pandemic. Fraudulent schemes normally start with unsolicited contact. Scammers use names similar to legitimate charities and may even claim to be working for or on behalf of the IRS to help victims file casualty loss claims and get tax refunds.

Threatening Impersonator Phone Calls

The IRS says these scams can come in many forms. Many times the caller threatens arrest, deportation, or license revocation if the victim doesn’t pay a tax bill. Taxpayers should contact the real IRS if they worry about having a tax problem.

Social Media Scams

Scammers use information from social media to convince the victim that they are dealing with someone close to them that they trust.

EIP or Refund Theft

Many of these crimes stem from identity theft where criminals file false tax returns or give false information to the IRS to divert funds to the wrong address or bank account.

Senior Fraud

Seniors are more likely to be targeted and victimized by scammers says the IRS. Financial abuse of seniors is a problem among personal and professional relationships. As seniors become more comfortable using technology and social media, it leaves them more vulnerable to those types of scams.

Scams targeting non-English speakers

A common version of this scam is a phone call, sometimes a robocall, threatening jail time, deportation, or revocation of a driver’s license from someone claiming to be with the IRS.

Unscrupulous Return Preparers

Most tax professionals provide honest, high-quality service, but dishonest preparers pop up every filing season and commit fraud.

The IRS provides tips for choosing a preparer on their website.

Offer in Compromise Mills

Tax debt resolution companies can often exaggerate a person’s chances to settle tax debt through Offer in Compromise or OIC and collect hefty fees for their services.

Taxpayers can visit the IRS website to see if they qualify for an OIC and settle their debt without a 3rd party.

Fake Payments with Repayment Demands

Scammers usually file a bogus tax return and has the refund deposited into the taxpayer’s account. Once deposited, the scammers call the taxpayer posing as an IRS employee and ask for the money to be returned due to an error. Scammers often ask the taxpayer to buy specific gift cards in the amount of the refund.

The IRS will never demand payment by a specific method.

Payroll & HR Scams

These are phishing scams sent to businesses and employees designed to steal W-2s and other tax information.

Scammers have used a variety of ploys to include requests for wire transfers, payment of fake invoices as well as others to steal information.


Ransomware is a growing cybercrime using malware to infect a victim’s computer, network, or server. Once downloaded, the malware tracks keystrokes and other computer activity, looking for and unlocking critical or sensitive data. Many times, victims don’t know the malware has been downloaded.

For a full explanation of each scam and how you can protect yourself, visit

The IRS is reminding you to stay alert. Contact police if you feel you have been the victim of a scam.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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