Looking forward to receiving a tax refund? Be careful. Tax time is primetime for scams and fraud. Did you know California is one of five states with the most victims of IRS impersonators?

Many scammers focus on vulnerable people who don’t have a lot of information about the IRS, such as immigrants with limited English proficiency and seniors.

Remember: Not everyone who calls saying that you owe a debt is a real debt collector. And you can’t always trust a tax preparer recommended by a neighbor or family member. Some are scammers trying to take your money. Know the warning signs and what questions to ask.

Common Tax Season Scams

  • Aggressive calls or emails from fake IRS agents
  • Calls pretending to be the Taxpayer Advocate Service
  • Unlicensed tax preparers who charge huge fees or take a large cut of your return
  • “Ghost” tax preparers who refuse to sign their name 

The IRS will never:

  • Call, text, or email you out of the blue to verify tax or bank information. 
  • Immediately threaten you with jail or criminal charges. 
  • Demand an upfront payment via prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. 
  • Deny you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount you owe.
  • Call you to ask for personal information like your credit card, Social Security number, or online password over the phone.

Did you know?

  • Scammers can contact you via email, calls, texts and official-looking letters! 
  • Caller ID can be faked.
  • Scammers may make up fake taxes like the federal student tax, fake agencies like the Bureau of Tax Enforcement, or create fake tax forms. 
  • Some scammers want to steal your identity. Don’t provide any personal financial information until you can verify that the attempt is not a scam.

Fight Back

  • If you suspect a tax scam, report them to the IRS here or call the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484.
  • Forward email messages or phone numbers that claim to be from the IRS to phishing@irs.gov. Never open attachments or click on links in suspicious emails.

Where to Find Free Tax Prep Services

Protect yourself from debt collection scamsIf you earned less than $60,000 last year, you don’t have to pay for tax preparation. There are trustworthy, IRS-certified Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) preparers at community-based organizations near you who will file your taxes for free. Find a location near you at CalEITC4Me.org/fileyourtaxes.

This tax season, don’t let a scammer steal your hard-earned money. Make sure you’re on the lookout for these common scams to best protect your paycheck and your family. To learn more about tax scams, visit irs.gov/newsroom/tax-scams-consumer-alerts.

Want to spread the word to friends, family, or clients? Send them the link to this page or download and print our flyer in English and Spanish here.