Scammers Exploit TurboTax's Popularity in Tax Season Scam

Scammers Exploit TurboTax's Popularity in Tax Season Scam
Cover Image Source: Tax forms | Getty Images | Photo by Justin Sullivan

As tax season sweeps across the nation, fraudsters are ramping up their efforts to prey on unsuspecting taxpayers, with a particular focus on users of the popular tax preparation software, TurboTax. Steve Weisman, a professor at Bentley University and the founder of scamicide.com, has issued a stark warning. "The scammers are capitalizing on the widespread use of TurboTax for electronic filing," he explains.

Unsplash | Photo by Markus Winkler
Image Source: Unsplash | Photo by Markus Winkler

"By impersonating TurboTax representatives and spoofing caller IDs, they create a convincing facade to lure in unsuspecting victims," adds Weisman.

According to him, the modus operandi of these scammers involves contacting individuals under the guise of TurboTax customer service representatives. Even before confirming if the targeted individuals are TurboTax users, the scammers employ a shotgun approach, banking on the likelihood that many individuals utilize the software.

"Through clever manipulation of caller IDs, victims may see incoming calls appearing to originate from TurboTax, further enhancing the illusion of legitimacy," he elaborates.

The fraudulent callers inform recipients that their tax return has been rejected and proceed to request sensitive personal information over the phone. They claim that this information is necessary to rectify the purported issue and resubmit the return on behalf of the victim.

NILES, IL - MARCH 23: A Best Buy employee walks past a display for TurboTax software in a Best Buy store March 23, 2006 in Niles, Illinois. As next month's income tax deadline approaches, Americans are preparing for it by using tax software, filing out paper forms or by using a tax preparer. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
Image Source: TurboTax | Photo by Tim Boyle | Getty Images

Weisman emphasizes that TurboTax does not initiate unsolicited calls to customers regarding issues with their tax returns unless specifically requested by the customer. Therefore, any unexpected call purportedly from the company should be treated with extreme caution.

"If you receive such a call and are a TurboTax customer, it's imperative to terminate the call immediately and contact TurboTax customer service directly," he advises.

Scammers are adept at exploiting human emotions, particularly during periods of heightened financial anticipation, such as tax season. "Maintaining a healthy level of skepticism is crucial. Always verify the authenticity of unexpected communications, especially when dealing with sensitive financial matters," he adds.

A woman picks up tax forms for tax filling | Getty Images | Photo by Chris Hondros
Image Source: A woman picks up tax forms for tax filling | Getty Images | Photo by Chris Hondros

As tax season progresses, a concerning number of Americans seeking assistance with their tax returns are becoming wary of potential tax preparation service scams. A consumer survey by LifeLock revealed that sixty-one percent of Americans express concerns about being targeted by common tax scams.

"Criminals know most people are confused and overwhelmed by the tax filing process and would rather leave it to a pro to make sure they get the biggest refund or smallest penalty," said Ian Bednowitz, General Manager of Identity for LifeLock.

Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Scott Olson
Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Scott Olson

With over half of Americans choosing to outsource tax preparation and a significant portion opting for self-filing software, it's important to discern the legitimacy of these services. These scams not only pose a risk of identity theft and financial loss but also the possibility of facing IRS repercussions. Scammers employ various tactics to deceive taxpayers, often presenting themselves as legitimate tax preparation service providers through emails, social media advertisements, and text messages. 

"There is a perception that hiring a tax pro or using a software service can be expensive. So, people shop around for alternative solutions, which can ultimately cost them a lot more if they stumble onto a fake site or hand over their tax forms to a fraudster," states Bednowitz.

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