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Tax day may have passed but the IRS says tax scams are still rampant

ST. LOUIS – IRS Public Affairs Officer Cesar Yabor warns taxpayers not to let today’s date provide a false sense of security. Tax day may have passed, but the tax scam threat remains real.

“If anyone reaches out to you claiming to be the IRS but they’re not doing it through correspondence, through mail, they’re not the IRS,” he said. “So please, please be careful.”

Yabor says fraudulent form filing and bad advice are rampant on social media.

“Anything that happens on social media, not safe. Common sense dictates not everybody on there’s going to be a CPA to give you proper tax advice,” he said.

That includes scammers posing as third-party online account helpers. Yabor informs us that hackers are targeting taxpayers and tax preparers. The criminals use unsolicited texts and emails to lure victims into providing valuable personal and financial information that can lead to identity theft.

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“It’s bad enough if you’re a taxpayer, but it magnifies the issue many times over if more than one person has lost their shirt over a fraudster that’s accessed information,” he said. “They will target, they will spearfish small business folks especially.”

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In February, we interviewed Tom Murdock, Special Agent in Charge of Criminal Investigations for the IRS’ St. Louis Field Office. He warned of unscrupulous tax preparers stealing refund money and personal information.

“In quite a few cases, we’ve seen the taxpayer doesn’t know and the taxpayer never gets the refund,” he said. “The refund is diverted to the return preparer’s bank account.”

Mudock’s advice then is the same as Yabor’s now: do your homework to protect vulnerable family and friends.

“There’s a whole host of the population out there that, unfortunately, are easier targets,” Yabor said. “Those of us who have older relatives or who have relatives whose first language isn’t English, it’s incumbent upon us to help them stay on guard.”

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