Tax Time Scams: Beware of ‘Accidental’ Deposits from the IRS

“YEAH for tax time!” – Said no one ever.

After years of agonizing tax preparation, you might think the universe is finally in your favor when you notice a surprise $20,000 pop up in your bank account. But before you book that vacation to Ibiza or run to the car dealership, pause and remember what you know to be true: If something seems too good to be true, it usually is.

Tax fraudsters will steal your personal information (typically from your tax accountant) and create fake documents that they submit to the IRS to ensure a hefty refund is deposited in your account. They then call or email you to let you know about this “mistake” and ask you to deposit the money back into an “IRS Collection Company” account. They will also pepper in threats like money penalties or jail time to try to get you to act as soon as possible before you can rationally assess the situation.

The first step to protect yourself against tax time scams is to make sure your tax accountant has the highest level of security for client information. It’s okay to ask questions about their cybersecurity and physical document security. An email or call leading with, “I heard about this scam and it just got me curious about your security protocols” is completely appropriate. After all, they work for YOU!

If you see the shady deposit in your account, call your bank immediately and they can help you navigate the situation. If the bank representative doesn’t advise you to close the account, do it anyway. Your information has been successfully stolen and you don’t want to chance it happening again. Yes, it’s an inconvenience, but it’s necessary for your safety and peace of mind.

The last tip to remember – and one that is vital to share with your loved ones, co-workers, etc. – is:


All communication from the IRS is sent via direct mail. So, if someone from the IRS calls you, HANG UP! If they email you, SEND IT TO SPAM! If they text you, BLOCK THE NUMBER!

Most of us have the intuition to not be rude – especially to a government agency who can uproot your life – but when you are steadfast in your knowledge knowing how the IRS communicates, you will have confidence to make the right decision in these moments that raise our blood pressure and make it hard to think clearly.

These tax time scams prey on our fears of not being in good standing with the United States Government. But what these scammers aren’t taking into account is that your knowledge equals power and protection from their nonsense. Here’s a video about Hanging Up on IRS Phone Scammers. Stay safe, informed and, “Happy Tax Season!” – Said no one ever.


John Sileo is a privacy keynote speaker, award-winning author and media personality as seen all over TV. He keynotes conferences virtually and in person around the world. John is the CEO of The Sileo Group, a business think tank based in Colorado.