Taxpayer Scams

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The New York State Division of Consumer Protection is alerting New York taxpayers to be vigilant against scams targeting taxpayers not only during tax season, but also year-round.

While taxpayer scams can take on a variety of forms, the following are examples of scams to look out for:

  • Phone calls from individuals posing as officials from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

In most cases, a victim of this scam will be instructed by the caller to promptly submit payment for money owed to the IRS through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim is hesitant, the scammer may threaten police arrest or license revocation. The scammer may also send bogus IRS e-mails or have others call pretending to be from the DMV or local police. For this scam, the actual phone number of the IRS, DMV and local police may register on the caller ID screen through a technique called “spoofing”. The caller may already know your name and be able to recite the last four digits of your Social Security Number.

The New York State Division of Consumer Protection warns consumers to be wary of phone calls requesting money or personal information. To prevent falling victim to this type of scam, please take note of the following tips:

  • Keep in mind that the IRS will typically first initiate contact with a taxpayer concerning a tax issue via mail. The IRS does not request personal or financial information through email and will not ask for credit card numbers over the phone.
  • Call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 if you think you owe taxes or need help with a payment issue.
  • Hang up the phone immediately if someone claiming to be from the IRS unexpectedly calls and threatens police arrest, deportation or license revocation.
  • Report anything suspicious to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484 and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Please visit the FTC website at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov and add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments of your complaint.
  • Scam artists fraudulently posing as tax preparers.

Scammers may make false claims on others’ tax returns, or even steal their refunds. They will often attempt to take advantage of those who might not otherwise have to file tax returns, such as the elderly or low-income households. Working with a phony or dishonest tax preparer also poses the threat of identity theft.
If you choose to file your tax return using a tax preparer, take precautions to protect your refund and prevent identity theft by keeping the following tips in mind:

  • Work only with those whom you have researched thoroughly. Avoid preparers who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers can, as well as those who base their fee on a percentage of your refund.
  • Make sure your tax preparer is willing to sign your return and provide their IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). The preparer must also provide you with a copy of the return.
  • Look over your return carefully – you are legally responsible for what’s on it. Similarly, never sign a blank return.
  • If you suspect a return preparer filed or altered a return without your consent, report it

the IRS by downloading Form 14157 and Form 14157-A on the IRS.gov website. You can order them by mail at 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

To report fraudulent activity by a tax preparer, contact the New York State’s Department of Consumer Protection at 518-474-8583 or file a complaint online at www.dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection.