IRS urges caution with email, social media, and phones

The IRS announced its “Dirty Dozen” scam series and is warning people to watch out for unexpected schemes in the form of emails, text or social media messages and phone calls.

Criminals may pose as someone you know or someone that you interact with. This could be a family member, social acquaintance, or business contact. Much of this information is obtained from social media.  Your contacts or ‘friends’ are used to bait you into thinking you are dealing with someone you know.

A con artist may try to contact you through a telephone call, text message or email to try to convince to provide Social Security numbers, bank account or credit card information or passwords. They may also send links that once clicked on, can download malicious software that collects personal data.

The IRS also warns taxpayers, businesses, and tax professionals to be alert for fake emails, text messages, websites, and social media attempts to steal personal information.

Phishing schemes can be cleverly disguised to look like they are from the IRS.  The IRS is warning people to be continually watching out for emails and other scams posing as the IRS. They could promise a big refund, missing stimulus payment or even some type of threat. Do not open attachments or click on links in suspicious emails or text messages.

The IRS reported an increase in voice-related phishing, or ‘vishing’. This is particularly true from scams related to federal tax liens. According to the IRS, there was a 14 percent increase in vishing scams in 2020.  However, there was a 79 percent increase from scammers who tried to use fake tax lien from 2019 to 2020.

The IRS urges everyone to be careful if you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be the IRS. Generally, the IRS contacts you by mail about unpaid taxes rather than by phone. The IRS may attempt to reach you by phone but will not insist on using payment by using a gift card, prepaid debit card, money order, wire transfer or iTunes card.

The IRS does not request personal or financial information by text, e-mail, or social media. If you receive a call requesting personal or financial information, you should hang up before providing any information.

You should know that any information that is publicly shared on social media platforms can be collected and used against you. This can be prevented by reviewing your privacy settings and limiting data that is publicly shared.

David Zubler is a tax accountant and Enrolled Agent representing clients before the IRS with over 25 years of tax experience. He is the author of four tax books and is the founder and president of Your Tax Care. The company provides business and tax education to the public at its website, David can also be contacted by email at