PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Just as tax season kicks off, the Internal Revenue Service is warning taxpayers about popular scams criminals use to fleece the public.
Each year, taxpayers' personal information is compromised through phishing scams or by predatory tax preparers. 2022 is no different, according to IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent Yury Kruty.
"There are multiple tax fraud schemes that we have seen and continue to see in the Philadelphia region," said Kruty.
Unscrupulous tax return preparers, he said, are at the top of that list. "These are tax return preparers who falsify returns with hopes of obtaining refunds that their clients are not entitled to receive," he explained.
He suggested taxpayers do their research and hire a preparer that works year-round, and to get their official information.
"They should ask their tax preparer for their IRS tax preparer identification number, also known as PETAN," he said, adding people should never use ghost preparers. "These are preparers who won't sign a tax return that they prepared for their clients."
Taxpayers need to make sure they are the only ones receiving their refunds. "Returns should never be deposited into the preparer's or somebody else's account. Taxpayers should make sure they are the ones receiving their refunds," he warned.
Kruty said online scams are also on the rise. "Do not respond to text messages, emails or social media posts claiming to be the IRS," he advised.
He confirmed the IRS will never call you threatening legal action. Taxpayers who get a call should simply hang up. And he urged people never to sign a blank tax return, because ultimately, it's the taxpayer who is held responsible.