Beware of Tax Scams

March 06, 2023

As tax season approaches, be on guard for tax scams, including phony IRS messages and phone calls. Protect yourself by using caution when viewing emails, responding to telephone calls, or getting advice on tax issues. Tax scams happen every year and can take many different forms.

Avoid the “Dirty Dozen”:

The Internal Revenue Service has announced its 2022 “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams. This year’s list of what to look out for is broken down into five categories:

  • Potentially abusive and wrongfully promoted arrangements including charitable remainder annuity trusts, Maltese (or Other Foreign) individual retirement arrangements, foreign captive insurance, and monetized installment sales.
  • Pandemic-related scams related to Economic Impact Payment and tax refund scams, unemployment fraud leading to inaccurate taxpayer 1099-Gs, fake employment offers on social media, and fake charities that steal taxpayers' money.
  • Scams from compromise “mills” that make ridiculous offers to reduce tax liability to pennies on the dollar for a fee.
  • Suspicious communications via email, social media, telephone, and text messages. For a list of what makes a communication suspicious, review Cialdini’s 6 Principles of Persuasion: A Simple Summary.
  • Spear phishing attacks to try to steal taxpayers’ information to file fraudulent tax returns and claim refunds.

To protect your information:

  • Don't respond to scare tactics. Contact the IRS directly to verify phone calls, electronic or paper messages.
  • Do not open unknown files, respond to unsolicited calls or messages or send money or information before verifying its origin. If you can't verify something is legitimate, ignore, delete it, or contact the person/organization who supposedly sent it to ask.
  • Never - ever - ever - reveal your password!!
  • Follow UC’s Minimum Security Standards.
  • Set up an IP Pin. This six-digit code ensures no one can file taxes in your name. IP Pins are used in both electronic and paper filing.
  • Don’t have an IP Pin? File your tax return as soon as possible! The IRS only accepts one tax return per Social Security number. If the file is yours and it’s in early, it becomes impossible for a fraudster to submit another return with your personal information.
  • Report crimes and criminal activity to the campus Police Department at (831) 459- 2231 or provide anonymous tips at
  • Forward IRS-related scam emails to Report IRS-impersonation telephone calls at IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting.

See the IRS' website for current tax scams and consumer alerts