Information Security

Use Reason This Tax Season: Don’t Be Fooled by Tax Scammers

How well do you know your tax return preparer? If you are filing taxes for the first time, or are on the hunt for a new tax return preparer, proceed with caution — tax return preparer fraud is on the rise. Tax scammers may file:

n False income tax returns with inflated personal or business expenses;

n False tax deductions;

n Unallowable tax credits; or

n Excessive exemptions.

In fact, last tax season, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) identified over $227 million claimed in fraudulent refunds1. If you plan to use professional services this season to file your taxes, choose carefully. Protect yourself against tax preparer fraud with the tips below:

n Watch for unsolicited emails from alleged tax return preparers and always check your tax return preparer’s credentials. The IRS provides a directory of tax return preparers with credentials at

n Avoid tax return preparers who promise much larger refunds than others.

n Avoid tax return preparers who base their fee on a percentage of your refund amount.

n Never sign a blank tax form or tax return before reviewing it first.

Before you file your taxes with a tax return preparer, ask yourself2:

n Are they qualified? Tax return preparers vary in levels of expertise and education. Even if the preparer has a preparer tax identification number (PTIN), that does not mean they are highly qualified or have a lot of experience.

n Do they offer IRS E-File? Paid preparers with more than 10 clients usually file electronically. This is the safest and most trusted way to file a tax return.

n Do they have a history? Ask the Better Business Bureau about your preparer — check for previous disciplinary actions and license status if they have credentials.

On the IRS website:

n For more information about choosing a tax return preparer, visit

n If you believe you are a victim of fraud3, visit

If you used your Postal Servicecomputer for any tax-related activity and suspect you are the victim of a scam, contact the CyberSecurity Operations Center (CSOC) at

For more information about suspected threats to the Postal Service, check out the new public-facing CyberSafe at USPS website at or the CyberSafe at USPS pages on Blue ( and LiteBlue (