Published: April 24, 2024
4 min read

Watch out for these sneaky post-season tax scams

Emma McGowan

Staff writer

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A woman laying on the couch holding a device.

While tax season has wound down, that doesn’t mean scamming has. Scammers often ramp up their efforts immediately following April 15, exploiting the common misconception that the danger is over. Since their taxes are safe and filed, people are less likely to be on their guard, making them prime targets for a whole range of tax scams.

This false sense of security, coupled with widespread misconceptions about the nature and severity of identity theft, sets the perfect stage for post-tax season scams. Recognizing that the threat does not end with the submission of your tax forms is the first step toward protecting yourself.

Common post-tax season scams to watch out for

So how might these scams show up? Let’s take a look.

  • Phishing emails: These IRS impersonation scam emails look like official communications from the IRS or other entities, falsely claiming there’s an issue with your tax return or refund.
  • Fake IRS phone calls: Scammers impersonate IRS agents and demand immediate payment for non-existent tax debts. Just like with emails, the IRS will never call you directly.
  • Bogus refund offers: These are false promises of inflated refunds, used to lure victims into sharing personal information.
  • Identity theft: Fraudsters attempt to steal Social Security numbers and other personal data to file tax returns in someone else’s name or open unauthorized accounts.
  • Social media scams: Imposters on social platforms mimic tax agencies or financial advisors, offering fraudulent tax savings or free services.
  • Tax preparer fraud: Individuals pose as tax preparers, steal personal information, or redirect tax refunds to their own accounts.
  • Ghost tax preparers: These scammers are known to file taxes without signing as the preparer, often promising large refunds and disappearing after the return is filed.
  • Unsolicited tax transcripts: Emails claiming to be tax transcripts or important documents that, when opened, install malware on the recipient’s computer.
  • Charity scams: Fake organizations request donations post-tax season, taking advantage of individuals seeking to make deductible contributions.
  • Investment scams: Post-tax season, fraudulent schemes promising high returns on refund investments surface, targeting unsuspecting investors.
  • Compromised tax professional: Hackers target tax professionals to steal their clients' personal information, leading to fraudulent tax filings and other identity theft.
  • Tax payment scams: Victims are told they owe taxes and must pay immediately using specific methods like prepaid cards, gift cards, or wire transfers.
  • Fake tax refund checks: Scammers send fraudulent tax refund checks, then contact the taxpayer claiming the refund was a mistake and demanding repayment through unconventional methods.

How to protect yourself from post-tax season scams

The first line of defense is recognizing the signs of scams and understanding that legitimate organizations like the IRS will never initiate contact via phone, email, or social media for personal information. Regularly reviewing your financial statements and being skeptical of unsolicited communications are crucial steps in identifying potential fraud.

In addition to these practices, consider strengthening your digital security. Use complex passwords, enable two-factor authentication on your accounts, and secure your personal documents. Limit the amount of personal information you share online, especially on social media platforms, as scammers can use this information to answer security questions or trick you into giving away more sensitive data.

Furthermore, enrolling in an identity protection service can offer an additional layer of security. These services monitor your financial and personal information for unusual activity and alert you to potential threats. They can also assist in the recovery process if your identity is compromised, helping to mitigate the damage more quickly and efficiently.

While the tax season may be over, the need for vigilance remains. By understanding the types of scams that occur post-tax season and taking proactive steps to protect yourself, you can significantly reduce the risk of becoming a victim. Stay informed, stay cautious, and consider utilizing additional tools and services to help safeguard your identity and finances.

Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. LifeLock offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about cyber safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses.

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