Tax Arizona Photo by Sharon McCutcheon

Tax scams in Arizona are on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic, affecting the state’s already vulnerable populations.

There have been 13 tax fraud schemes since the coronavirus first began, according to the Arizona Department of Revenue (ADOR). All of the schemes, identified by the department’s Criminal Investigation Unit, reportedly involved stolen or fictitious identities in an attempt to scam the state government.

The total amount of tax fraud so far this year totals up to over $10 million. ADOR noted that’s a 50 percent increase compared to last year.

Arizona seniors are the most vulnerable to these scams, and the types of fraudulent attempts range in refund amounts.

One scheme involved scammers posing as young people requesting refunds ranging in amounts between $48 to $5,000.

Another fraud scheme that stood out to ADOR investigators involved trying to use the identities of people who were either retired or had passed away. In that case, the scammers were submitting false 1099 tax forms before filing tax refund claims requesting between $109 to $8,999 with those false identities.

“The department is on heightened alert during tax season as identity thieves use data that may have been stolen through a number of different scams, including over the phone, texts, card-skimming devices, access through unsecured Wi-Fi, stealing mail, hacking email accounts, and phishing schemes,” said an ADOR press release.

ADOR urges Arizonans to continue to protect their identities by doing the following:

  • Do not carry identification with a social security number (SSN) on it.
  • If someone asks for a social security number, always ask why because it’s not always required.
  • Keep personal and confidential information in a secure place.
  • Take extra precautions when giving out personal or confidential information.
  • Protect personal computers, smartphones, and other devices by using anti-virus software.
  • Use strong passwords, never share passwords, and don’t use the same password for multiple accounts/applications.
  • Access a free credit report annually here.
  • Monitor wage earnings by examining statements from the Social Security Administration.
  • Never give personal information through email, social media or text messaging and, and never give personal information over the phone unless initiating the call.

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