This article was first published on April 2, 2011. It was updated on June 9, 2013, with information relevant to the 2012 and 2013 tax years.
Expatriate Tax Return Scams!
Each year, the IRS gets thousands of reports from taxpayers who receive suspicious emails, phone calls, faxes or notices claiming to be from the IRS. These individuals ask about your expatriate tax return and other sensitive information. Many of these scams will use the Internal Revenue Service name and logo to make the communication look more authentic — why wouldn’t the IRS want to know about your expatriate tax return?
These scams are known as “phishing” scams and are designed to get you to divulge your personal financial information to the scammer, who will then attempt to access your personal accounts, steal your identity, apply for credit cards in your name, file your expatriate tax return and take your refund, among other things. There is a good book about how this works, from the criminal stand point, called “The Art of the Steal.” It is both entertaining and educational and is a solid read for anyone interested in identity theft.
Here are some things you should watch out for to make sure you don’t get scammed by those asking for data about your expatriate tax return or other sensitive information. Don’t trust anyone just because they have an IRS logo!
- The IRS will not ask you for PIN numbers, passwords or any sort of secret access information to your accounts.
- The IRS will NOT initiate taxpayer communications through email.
They also will not send a message about your tax account via email. If you receive an email from someone claiming to be the IRS or you are directed to the IRS site, you should:
- Not reply to the message — but feel free to check the email address; IRS communications end with irs.gov
- Not open any attachments — these could contain viruses
- Not click on any links in the suspicious email
3. The official IRS website is www.IRS.gov. Don’t be fooled by sites that end in .com, .net. org, .edu, .biz or anything else.
4. If you receive a phone call or fax from the IRS, and you think it may be fake, the best thing to do is to call the IRS on the official number 1 (800) 829-1040. You can ask the representative you speak with whether the IRS has actually tried to contact you. If they have, you can follow up with them. If they have not, then please report the fraudulent contact to the IRS.
5. If you have been the victim of a phishing scam, then please report the details to the IRS.
Questions about your expatriate tax return?
We have a blog post that provides a comprehensive checklist of everything you need for you expatriate tax return. If you have further questions about any expatriate tax return or would like to learn more about our expat tax services, please contact us.