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How to Avoid Tax Scams

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The bad guys love filing your taxes for you – but they usually make sure your hard-earned tax refunds go to themselves instead of you.  Here is a list of things you can do to help:

  1. Be very cautious with tax-related emails: Generally, the IRS does not reach out via email. Remember, just because the email looks like it’s coming from a legitimate source, doesn’t mean it is – bad guys can copy a valid signature line, or mimic a ‘from’ address to say whatever they want! Legitimate accounts can also be compromised – so the email you receive may be from a legitimate account, but the sender may not be legitimate. The best thing you can do is call the person emailing you – from a number you have on file – not the number they provided you in the email. Often these messages appear to be urgent, forcing you to act quickly and drop your guard. Take a pause and ask yourself if it makes sense that you’d be receiving this type of message via email or text. If you call to verify legitimacy and they don’t answer or call you back, don’t panic – patience serves you well in these sorts of situations, quick or hasty decisions do not! The IRS asks that you report all unsolicited emails claiming to be from the IRS or IRS-related function to It’s best to forward the message(s) as you received it. If you forward a screenshot of the email, valuable information gets removed, and they lose the ability to use that information to track the bad guys.
  2. Be suspicious of tax-related phone calls: Historically, tax fraudsters will place calls, often of a threatening nature. According to the website, verify a caller is an actual IRS employee by recording the employee’s name, badge number, call back number and caller ID if available. Then call 1-800-366-4484 to determine if the caller is an IRS employee with a legitimate need to contact you. If they are legitimate, call them back. If they are not legitimate, report the incident at (Subject: ‘IRS Phone Scam’).
  3. File Early: Bad guys can file your return or get a tax refund often with just your name, date of birth and social security number and request that your refund is sent to an address that is not yours. Usually, by the time the IRS is alerted to a mismatch in information, the bad guys have already received the refund…your refund! If you file early, the bad guys won’t have a chance to file your taxes for you.

Be careful out there!

—Steve Fercho, Cybersecurity Officer

  Being in the know is the first step to protecting yourself and your business from cyber fraud. Choice Bank is committed to providing you with up-to-date resources and tips to help you stay informed. Learn more at