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Coronavirus Doesn't Stop Tax Scams in Nevada

Scammers impersonating the Internal Revenue Service routinely contact people and business owners via telephone, e-mail and even regular mail. (TheDigitalArtist/Pixabay)
Scammers impersonating the Internal Revenue Service routinely contact people and business owners via telephone, e-mail and even regular mail. (TheDigitalArtist/Pixabay)
March 13, 2020

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Amidst fears over the new coronavirus, it's tax time. And both issues require vigilance when it comes to protecting yourself against scammers.

Darrellyn Bonstell is an arbitration specialist with the Better Business Bureau in southern Nevada and says scammers hoping to steal a person's tax refund often send emails that look legitimate and include an Internal Revenue Service logo. She reminds taxpayers that the IRS does not send emails.

Even more common, says Bonstell, is a frightening phone call from a scammer claiming to be an IRS agent who says the police are about to arrest you over unpaid taxes.

"They threaten arrest if you don't pay it immediately," says Bonstell. "They'll ask you to pay for it with iTunes cards, or gift cards of some kind. Those are all typically red flags."

Bonstell says scammers often target seniors, because they believe they have a nest egg they can tap into.

In a 2018 study, the Federal Trade Commission reported receiving tens of thousands of incidents of tax-related fraud. The study showed Florida, Georgia, Nevada and California to be the states most targeted by fraud or identity theft.

This time of year, it's especially important to be wary of phone calls from a number you don't recognize, because as Bonstell points out, if it's important, the person will leave a message.

She also notes that scammers take a unique approach each year.

"And there's a new twist coming out in 2020, calling and saying that they need to update your information in order for you to get your refund," says Bonstell. "Again, that is a scam. The IRS will never call a person and ask for their personal information over the phone - ever."

Last year, six Las Vegas residents were charged with running a fraudulent mass-mailing scheme that tricked hundreds of thousands of people into paying more than $10 million in fees for falsely promised cash prizes, according to the Department of Justice.

If you think someone has tried to scam you out of money, you can report it, at IRS.gov.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - NV