Protecting Yourself From Scams


Simple Steps from Healthcare.gov

Make sure you are protecting yourself from being scammed while shopping for the health coverage you need.

Be Informed

  • Visit the official government website and Marketplace: Healthcare.gov to enroll.
  • Compare insurance plans carefully — make sure you understand what you are getting before you sign up.
  • You can sign up for an insurance plan on Healthcare.gov for 2016 coverage starting November 1, 2015 until January 31, 2016.
  • If you’re enrolled in a 2015 Marketplace plan, your benefit year ends December 31, 2015. To continue health coverage in 2016, you can renew your current health plan or choose a new health plan through the Marketplace during the 2016 Open Enrollment period.

Protect your health and financial information

  • DO NOT give out personal health or financial information to anyone. No one should ever ask you for this.
  • Keep all personal information in a safe place where only you can find it.
  • NEVER give health, personal or financial information to someone who calls or comes to your house uninvited – even if they say they are from the Marketplace!

Ask & Verify: Ask questions then verify the answer

  • You can contact the Marketplace 24 hours a day 7 days a week FOR FREE https://www.healthcare.gov/contact-us/.  You should never be asked to pay for services or help.
  • If you get help with the Marketplace — Write it down!  Keep a record of the person who assisted you, who he/she works for, telephone number, email address/website.
  • VERIFY THE ANSWER — Double check any information that is confusing or sounds fishy.  If it doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t.
  • Do NOT sign anything that you don’t fully understand.

Report anything suspicious

  • If you think you are a victim of identity theft, or think you might have given your information to someone you shouldn’t have — Contact your local police department and the Federal Trade Commission’s ID Theft Hotline at 1-877-438-4338 right away or through the official Marketplace Call Center 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325)
  • You can learn more about identity theft by clicking here.

UPDATED DECEMBER 2016:

Summary of Most Recent Tax Scams & Schemes

As tax season approaches, the Internal Revenue Service, the states and the tax industry reminded taxpayers to be on the lookout for an array of evolving tax scams related to identity theft and refund fraud.

Some of the most prevalent IRS impersonation scams include:

Requesting fake tax payments: The IRS has seen automated calls where scammers leave urgent callback requests telling taxpayers to call back to settle their “tax bill.” These fake calls generally claim to be the last warning before legal action is taken. Taxpayers may also receive live calls from IRS impersonators. They may demand payments on prepaid debit cards, iTunes and other gift cards or wire transfer. The IRS reminds taxpayers that any request to settle a tax bill using any of these payment methods is a clear indication of a scam. (IR-2016-99)

Targeting students and parents and demanding payment for a fake “Federal Student Tax”: Telephone scammers are targeting students and parents demanding payments for fictitious taxes, such as the “Federal Student Tax.” If the person does not comply, the scammer becomes aggressive and threatens to report the student to the police to be arrested. (IR-2016-107)

Sending a fraudulent IRS bill for tax year 2015 related to the Affordable Care Act: The IRS has received numerous reports around the country of scammers sending a fraudulent version of CP2000 notices for tax year 2015. Generally, the scam involves an email or letter that includes the fake CP2000. The fraudulent notice includes a payment request that taxpayers mail a check made out to “I.R.S.” to the “Austin Processing Center” at a Post Office Box address. (IR-2016-123)

Soliciting W-2 information from payroll and human resources professionals:  Payroll and human resources professionals should be aware of phishing email schemes that pretend to be from company executives and request personal information on employees. The email contains the actual name of the company chief executive officer. In this scam, the “CEO” sends an email to a company payroll office employee and requests a list of employees and financial and personal information including Social Security numbers (SSN). (IR-2016-34)

Imitating software providers to trick tax professionals: Tax professionals may receive emails pretending to be from tax software companies. The email scheme requests the recipient download and install an important software update via a link included in the e-mail. Upon completion, tax professionals believe they have downloaded a software update when in fact they have loaded a program designed to track the tax professional’s key strokes, which is a common tactic used by cyber thieves to steal login information, passwords and other sensitive data. (IR-2016-103)

“Verifying” tax return information over the phone: Scam artists call saying they have your tax return, and they just need to verify a few details to process your return. The scam tries to get you to give up personal information such as a SSN or personal financial information, including bank numbers or credit cards. (IR-2016-40)

Pretending to be from the tax preparation industry: The emails are designed to trick taxpayers into thinking these are official communications from the IRS or others in the tax industry, including tax software companies. The phishing schemes can ask taxpayers about a wide range of topics. E-mails or text messages can seek information related to refunds, filing status, confirming personal information, ordering transcripts and verifying PIN information. (IR-2016-28)

If you receive an unexpected call, unsolicited email, letter or text message from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here are some of the tell-tale signs to help protect yourself.

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 or initiate contact by e-mail or text message. Generally, the IRS will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

If you get a suspicious phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:

  • Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
  • Search the web for telephone numbers scammers leave in your voicemail asking you to call back. Some of the phone numbers may be published online and linked to criminal activity.
  • Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page or call 800-366-4484.
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
  • If you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040.

If you receive an unsolicited email that appears to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), report it by sending it to phishing@irs.gov.

The IRS also provides a variety of resources for tax professionals about security threats posed by identity theft issues targeting the industry through its Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself campaign.

Taxpayers and Tax Professionals can help spread the word on this week’s messages using the hashtag #TaxSecurity in social media platforms.

Additional IRS Resources

IRS Tax Tip: IRS, Partners Urge Taxpayers to Beware of IRS Impersonations and Tax Scams