The good news on the scam front is that fewer people reported getting suckered by con artists last year. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says there were 2.4 million scam reports in 2022, compared to 2.9 million such reports in 2021.
The bad news is that con artists stole more money. The FTC's newest data book issued today (Feb. 23) reports $8.8 billion lost to scams in 2022. That's 2.6 billion more reports than the previous year.
One reason for the dramatic increase in the amount of scammed dollars is the growth of investment scams. These schemes were huge in 2022, according to the FTC, with reported losses of $3.8 billion. That's more than people lost to any other type of scam, and more than double the loss to investment scams reported in 2021.
Impersonator scams, however, continued to be the most-reported type of scam. In 2022, crooks pretending to be someone else made off with $2.6 billion from their victims.
Don't fall for fake IRS agent calls: Imposter scams come in many varieties, but they all work the same way. The crooks sending emails or texts or on the other end of the phone line are able to convince their targets to send them money.
The fake Internal Revenue Service agent phone call scam showed up in 2014 and soon was dubbed the largest ever tax fraud con. It's morphed from false warnings that call recipients owed taxes into fake threats of legal action, imprisonment, and deportation.
It might not be as pervasive, but IRS agent impersonators are still around. So are other types of tax fraud, most notably in connection with identity theft according to the FTC data.
And tax filing season typically sees an increase in tax scams, notably via phone.
Similar sketchy text messages, several urging me to "call immediately" the phone number included in the message.
I've ignored them all, not answering the calls and deleting the messages, so I can't say for sure they are tax-related. If, however, I do get confirmation that they are tax scams, I plan to follow the following IRS advice.
Note the number, then hang up the phone immediately.
Report the scam call to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) using its online reporting system, or by calling toll-free (800) 366-4484.
Also let the FTC know about the tax scam by using the commission's online Complaint Assistant.
Finally, inform the IRS by reporting to phish[email protected]. Put "IRS Phone Scam" in the subject line.
Tax scam warning signs: Also keep these tips in mind to help you quickly spot a tax scam.
The IRS will never call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card, or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
Neither will the agency demand that taxes be paid without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
A caller who threatens to immediately bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying is not an IRS agent. Tax agency employees will not do this.
Finally, the IRS won't call with the good news that you have an unexpected refund. While the agency is aiming to improve its customer service, this is not one of the planned changes.
You also might find these items of interest:
- 6 ways to avoid being a tax scam victim
- Don't fall for any of 2022's Dirty Dozen tax scams
- All of Don't Mess With Taxes' posts on scams and identity theft