March 19, 2019

Oregon FBI Tech Tuesday: Building a Digital Defense Against Tax Fraud (Part 1)

Welcome to the Oregon FBI’s Tech Tuesday segment. This week: building a digital defense against tax fraud.

With April 15th just around the corner, it is a good time to check in with our friends at the IRS for tips on safe filing.

With the tax bill passed last year by Congress, there are plenty of changes to tax law, and, not surprisingly, change can bring confusion. This uncertainty can open the door to fraudsters who want to convince you that they can help you find new deductions, fictitious rebates, and bigger refunds.

While most tax preparers are honest, hard-working professionals—there are certainly others who want to take advantage of you as time ticks down to filing day. They may approach you via text, email, social media post, phone call, or even in person at community events or church gatherings.

Here are some warning signs to watch for with regards to these less-than-legit preparers:

  • The preparer says he can get you a much bigger refund than you received last year or is bigger than what other preparers say you are eligible to receive.
  • The preparer pushes you to provide personal information, including W-2 forms, before you actually hire the person.
  • Your tax refund gets deposited in the scammer’s bank account, and he deducts a large fee before paying you the remainder of your refund.
  • The preparer only wants to use paper forms instead of e-filing your return.
  • The preparer doesn’t give you a copy of your own return.

If you need help finding a tax professional, check out the IRS webpage

Next week we will talk about some other tax season scams, including criminals who target vulnerable populations and phishing scams that target you and your employer.

If you have been victimized by this online scam or any other cyber fraud, be sure to also report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at or call your local FBI office.