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Tax season fraud attacks on the rise, a warning from Colorado IRS investigators

Consumers need to be prepared for imposter phone calls, social media messages, emails, text messages, and stolen mail.
Tax season fraud attacks on the rise, a warning from Colorado IRS investigators
Posted at 5:00 AM, Jan 31, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-31 08:48:22-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — Criminal investigators with the IRS are sending a warning about an increasing number of fraud attacks as people try to get their taxes sorted out and taken care of. News5 followed up on those warnings to find out more.

According to the IRS, criminals are pulling out all of their tricks for tax season. From stealing mail to aggressive texts, phone calls, and even social media messages, the goal is to try to get you to pay them this tax season, or to find a way to get their hands on your tax return before you can.

Recently we told you about an investigation into stolen mail in the Monument area. With no arrests made to this point and tax season here, we continue to follow up on concerns from homeowners like Travis Sheveland. He’s doing his best to keep an eye on his mailbox.

”I signed up for the informed delivery just to see what should be coming in my mail,” said Sheveland.

People here are aware of the potential dangers. If the mail thieves were to get their hands on sensitive information or even tax season mail it could easily lead to a series of fraud attacks.

”Ever since COVID that’s been a nightmare. So, I would hate to see what would happen to people if their refund checks got stolen,” said Sheveland.

News5 spoke with Andy Tsui, the special agent in charge for IRS criminal investigations at the Denver field office. He says the fraud attacks are already being launched.

”The fact that it’s filing season we always see an uptick in IRS impersonations. So, those kind of scams do increase because they know there’s a higher likelihood that people would be interacting with the IRS,” said Tsui.

If someone does call you claiming to be from the IRS, investigators say there is an obvious sign of an imposter that should make you hang up.

”The IRS is not going to threaten arrest if you don’t make a payment. If it’s the first time you’re hearing of it it’s not going to be legitimate,” warned Tsui. “It’s never a surprise if you’re working with the IRS. If you are under some kind of audit it’s not a surprise you’ll know what’s coming. There is communication and there’s never going to be any threats.”

Fraud experts say if you can help it, you shouldn’t wait too long to file your taxes because there are instances where criminals use identity theft to file taxes in your name and get their hands on your return before you can.

”You might get a letter claiming that your refund has been issued or that they have a question about your application. That should be a huge red flag,” said Colorado State University Global’s Dr. Fraud J. Michael Skiba. “At that point I would absolutely engage the IRS to try to ascertain what exactly did occur.”

Criminal investigators with the IRS tell News5 if you get a text message, social media message, or any kind of a link sent to you that appears to be from them, it’s always a scam, you should delete it and report it.

Tips to avoid and report IRS scams:

https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/avoid-scams-know-the-facts-on-how-the-irs-contacts-taxpayers#:~:text=IRS%20employees%20may%20call%20taxpayers,and%20will%20never%20demand%20money.

IRS Taxpayer guide to identity theft:

https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/taxpayer-guide-to-identity-theft

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