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IRS: Avoid “Help” From Third Parties Offering To Set Up Your Online Account

By:
S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Apr 2, 2024

On the third day of its 2024 Dirty Dozen series, the IRS warned taxpayers about scammers who try to sell their expertise or to offer help when setting up an Online Account on IRS.gov.

The IRS Online Account is a tool that provides convenient access to an individual’s tax information. The scammers who try to trick taxpayers aim to obtain their personal tax and financial information that can be used to commit identity theft.

The criminal poses as a "helpful" third party who offers to help create a taxpayer's IRS Online Account at IRS.gov. The person often asks for the taxpayer's personal information, such as address, Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification number (ITIN), and photo identification. The person may make it seem like a complicated task that requires personal assistance but, as the IRS advised, taxpayers can and should establish their own Online Accounts through IRS.gov.

“An Online Account at IRS.gov can help taxpayers view important details about their tax situation,” said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel. “But scammers have realized the sensitive information there is valuable to them, so they’re now focusing on tricking people that they need help setting up an account.”

Once obtained, the sensitive information and details can be used to submit fraudulent tax returns, obtain loans and open credit accounts in a victim's name.

“This is just an elaborate scam designed to obtain valuable and sensitive tax information that scammers will use to try to steal a refund,” Werfel added. “This is another reminder that people should be wary of unexpected reach-outs from the IRS and other financial institutions. Taxpayers should avoid sharing sensitive personal data over the phone, email or social media to protect themselves and avoid getting caught up in these scams.”

As part of the Dirty Dozen awareness effort, the IRS encouraged people to report individuals who promote improper and abusive tax schemes, as well as tax return preparers who deliberately prepare improper returns.

To report an abusive tax scheme or a tax return preparer, people should mail or fax a completed Form 14242, Report Suspected Abusive Tax Promotions or Preparers, and any supporting material to the IRS Lead Development Center in the Office of Promoter Investigations.

Alternatively, taxpayers and tax professionals may send the information to the IRS Whistleblower Office for possible monetary award. For more information, see Abusive Tax Schemes and Abusive Tax Return Preparers.

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