Live 5 Scambusters: IRS investigator highlights ‘Dirty Dozen’ list of top tax scams

Updated: Jul. 23, 2020 at 4:36 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Tax scams typically hit their peak around the filing deadline in April, but the IRS says the delayed deadline means scammers are still working several scams to get your money.

The IRS has released its Dirty Dozen list of the top 12 tax scams of 2020. The list includes some common schemes that may have been modified by scammers trying to get a refund check or file a false return. The IRS puts out the list of scams each year to raise awareness and encourage people to report this kind of activity.

“We become aware of these because of the public.” IRS Special Agent in Charge Matthew Line said.

Special Agent Line works in the IRS Criminal Investigation Charlotte Field Office. He’s spent 20 years as an investigator and says the key to tracking down these criminals is for victims to report the activity, no matter how significant it may seem.

“It’s important that, even if it’s just a couple of hundred dollars,” Line said. “Report that information so that we can be aware of it and see if it’s part of something larger and also start to begin to put safeguards in place to detract these scammers from continuing to do these things.”

Here are the 2020 ‘Dirty Dozen’ tax scams:

  • Phishing - Beware of emails or fake websites claiming to be from the IRS with information about a tax bill, refund, or Economic Impact Payments.
  • Imposter phone calls - IRS robocalls aren’t as common as a few years ago but scammers will still call and threaten legal action unless you settle a tax bill. These calls are not real.
  • Social media scams - Scammers may pose as family or friends through fake accounts. They may encourage you to sign up for tax refunds, stimulus payments, or government grants.
  • EIP or tax refund theft - Scammers may use your identity to file false tax returns. They are also using your information to steal your Economic Impact Payments funded by the CARES Act.
  • Fake payments with repayment demands - This is just like a traditional check fraud scam. The scammer will send a tax refund or EIP check for you to deposit. Once the check is in the bank, the scammer will claim an error has been made and tell the victim to send money back. This is typically done using gift cards.
  • Fake charities - During times of disaster, scammers will target victims trying to help others. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to more fraudulent charities created by scammers trying to collect your money.
  • Senior fraud - Older Americans are more likely to be targeted than any other segment of society. They are vulnerable to a variety of these scams.
  • Scams targeting non-English speakers - These scams target people who may have limited information about scams or who may not fully understand the scammer’s claims. Recent immigrants may also be targeted by a scammer threatening arrest or deportation unless payments are made.
  • Unscrupulous return preparers - The COVID-19 pandemic has limited tax professionals from face-to-face interactions with taxpayers. Scammers have taken advantage to file fraudulent returns or steal refunds.
  • Offer in Compromise mills - The OIC program helps taxpayers reduce tax debt but scammers will try to lure victims in with the promise of lower payments. The “mills” collect fees for the service without delivering any benefits.
  • Payroll and HR scams - The scam is designed to steal W-2s and other tax information by impersonating an employer. Scammers will send emails spoofing a company payroll or Human Resources office to “confirm” personal information.
  • Ransomware - This cybercrime could come in a variety of forms to attack your computer, network, server, or phone. Scammers may send links through emails, text messages, or other digital correspondence. The links could contain malware or take you to a fake website designed to steal your information.

You can read more about the IRS ‘Dirty Dozen’ list here. If you need to report a tax scam or fraud to the IRS you can do so at

If you have a scam story to share, email Kyle Jordan at

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