Just when you thought you had enough to be concerned with, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) revealed it’s annual "Dirty Dozen" list of tax scams in July, with a special emphasis on aggressive and evolving schemes related to coronavirus tax relief. According to IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig, tax scams tend to rise during times of crisis, and scam artists are using the COVID-19 pandemic to try to “steal money and information from honest taxpayers.”1
The following make up the top five scams on this year’s Dirty Dozen list:
Don't Be the Next Victim
The IRS is hardly alone among government agencies and watchdogs reporting a spike in scams and cyberattacks during the COVID-19 pandemic. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center has reported thousands of complaints about coronavirus-related scams. By early August 2020, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had logged more than 160,000 consumer complaints related to COVID-19 and stimulus payments, with two-thirds involving fraud or identity theft. Victims have reported losing $105.7 million, with a median loss of $280 per person.
Fortunately, agencies and organization are doing more than simply recording these crimes. The Federal Communications Commission set up a dedicated website with information on COVID-19 phone scams, and in May, Google also got into the act, rolling out its new Scam Spotter program. Co-created with the Cybercrime Support Network, the program recommends a three-step process for individuals to consider before handing over personal information through a phone call or email.
5 Ways You Can Fight Back
Consider the following tips to avoid phishing, fraud, and related financial scams:
Remember, your best defense against scams that seek to separate you from your money is a good offense. It pays to take the time to do your homework and know who you’re dealing with before engaging with them. For more information and tips on safeguarding your financial accounts and protecting against identity theft, visit the IRS or FTC online.