Tax refund scams: IRS warns taxpayers of common tax scams in 2020

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Criminals are on the hunt for your personal information this tax season so they can take your tax refund.

Scammers will harass or threaten you to get the information, sometimes pretending to be from the IRS. However, the IRS will never call or email you and demand your social security number or a birthdate. Once the wrong person has that information, they could also get your tax refund.

IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig warned tax return filers of the latest tax scams in an IRS YouTube video.
"We are working hard to get ready for tax filing season. You know who else is working hard? Identity thieves. Let's not make it easy on them. Keep your computers and your mobile phones secure," Rettig said in the video.

To avoid hacks of your tax information, you should use antivirus software and strong passwords. When you're shopping online, make sure you're on sites with "https" in the URL.

The most common scam is when your personal information is used to file a fake tax return for you. They collect your return while you deal with the IRS.

"Not only are you out the money, you're involved in a fraud that is going to have to be investigated, and any legitimate taxes you might be entitled to as far as a return might be held up until this is cleared up," said Ira Winkler, the lead security principal at Chicago's Trustwave. He said criminals will also be "phishing" for your personal information using texts, emails, and even calls.

"People should be aware that what you need to do is you need to go ahead and not give out information to anybody who contacts you," Winkler said.

He said if you find yourself in an unsure situation, hang up or delete the email or text.

"If somebody says there is a problem with your tax form, call the IRS directly," he added.

Also remember, the IRS will never ask you to purchase gifts cards or wire money to them.

In most cases, the IRS will send you U.S. mail on official letterhead to alert you of any real issues with your taxes.

If anyone in person says they are from the IRS, they should have multiple forms of identification.
Copyright © 2020 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.