The Internal Revenue Service and the Security Summit partners has issued warnings to all taxpayers and tax professionals to beware of scams and identity theft schemes by criminals taking advantage of the combination of holiday shopping, the approaching tax season and coronavirus concerns.
The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry opened the National Tax Security Awareness Week, November 29 – December 3, to coincide with Cyber Monday, the traditional start of the online holiday shopping season. But the holiday shopping season combined with the impending tax season and an increased trend toward working remotely make online security an absolute necessity.
"This is generally the hunting season for online thieves, but this year there's a dangerous combination of factors at play that should make people more alert," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "The combination of online holiday shopping, the approaching filing season and more of us are working remotely puts people more at risk. People can help avoid becoming victims of scams or identity thefts, by taking a few simple steps to help protect sensitive tax and financial information."
The IRS, state tax agencies and the nation's tax industry – working together as the Security Summit – mark the start of the 5th annual National Tax Security Awareness Week with tips on basic safeguards everyone should take.
The week includes special informational graphics and social media efforts on platforms including Twitter and Instagram.
Steps to remember during the holidays and as the 2021 tax season approaches:
In addition, the Summit partners note these security measures include mobile phones – an area that people sometimes can overlook. Thieves have become more adept at compromising mobile phones. Phone users also are more prone to open a scam email from their phone than from their computer.
Taxpayers can check out security recommendations for their specific mobile phone by reviewing the Federal Communications Commission's Smartphone Security Checker. Since phones are used for shopping and even for doing taxes, remember to make sure phones and tablets are just as secure as computers.
The IRS will not call, text or email about your Economic Impact Payment or your tax refund. Nor will the IRS call with threats of jail or lawsuits over unpaid taxes. Those are scams.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation issued warnings earlier about fraud and scams related to the pandemic. It specifically warned of COVID-19 schemes related to taxes, anti-body testing, healthcare fraud, cryptocurrency fraud and others. COVID-related fraud complaints can be filed at the National Center for Disaster Fraud.
The Federal Trade Commission also has issued alerts about fraudulent emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control or the World Health Organization. Consumers can keep atop the latest scam information and report COVID-related scams at Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: The FTC in Action.
The IRS, state tax agencies, the private sector tax industry, including tax professionals, work in partnership as the Security Summit to help protect taxpayers from identity theft and refund fraud. This is the first in a week-long series of tips to raise awareness about identity theft. See IRS.gov/securitysummit for more details.
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