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AARP: Scams the IRS wants you to know about

Criminals use a lot of different tactics to steal money from consumers, and one of those tactics is the promise of “free money.”

The Internal Revenue Service is warning taxpayers to be on the lookout for several scams that try to mislead people into believing the IRS owes them.

How it works

• You may receive a cardboard envelope from a delivery service. The enclosed letter includes the IRS masthead and wording that the notice is “in relation to your unclaimed refund.”

• The fake letter contains false contact details and asks for personal and financial information, such as a detailed photo of your driver’s license.

• You might also receive an email reminding you to claim your Employee Retention Credit or your “stimulus.”

• These emails often lead to a company that offers to search for unclaimed funds if you pay a sizable upfront fee.

What to know

• The mail scheme is an attempt to obtain sensitive personal information, such as a Social Security number, date of birth, credit card or banking account numbers or driver’s license.

• Recent reports indicate that driver’s licenses are among the hottest commodities for criminals on the dark web.

• The IRS shared that the scam letter contains several grammatical and punctuation errors – which are often clear indicators of a scam.

• The ERC program and stimulus funds were part of the COVID-19 economic response and haven’t been renewed.

What to do

• Ignore any unsolicited email, social media post or text claiming to be from the IRS (the IRS has stated that it won’t contact you via these methods).

•Beware of anyone who claims you are owed money by the IRS who hasn’t actually reviewed your taxes, and never pay an upfront fee to someone who says they can get your money back.

•Consult with a trusted tax professional whenever you have a question on whether you are eligible for any IRS program.

Knowledge gives you power over scams.

The AARP Fraud Watch Network equips you with reliable, up-to-date insights and connects you to our free fraud helpline so you can better protect yourself and your loved ones.

We also advocate at the state, federal and local levels to enact policy changes that protect consumers and enforce laws.

One more thing

We launched AARP VOA ReST, a free program that provides emotional support for people affected by a scam or fraud.

ReST sessions are online, hourlong, confidential small groups led by trained peer facilitators.

Experiencing a scam can be devastating, but it doesn’t have to define you.

Visit aarp.org/fraudsupport to learn more.