If you get an e-mail or a call from someone who claims to be a SARS employee asking for money, you should check the SARS Scams/Consumer Alerts webpage Another SARS scam to be on the lookout for is the ghost preparer – this is an individual who prepares your tax return, but does not sign it or provide any details identifying them. Ghost preparers can also fabricate income to make you eligible for extra tax breaks, or claim false deductions to pad your tax return.
Bogus websites may even claim to work for or on behalf of the Internal Revenue Service, helping victims file a loss-of-income claim and receive tax refunds. With that information, they may file an erroneous tax return on your behalf and deposit the so-called refund in your account.
Much of the fraud comes from identity theft, in which the perpetrator files false tax returns or provides other fake information to the revenue service in order to funnel the refund to a false address or bank account. Posing as The Internal Revenue Service, fraudsters concoct tens of thousands of excuses for reaching out to you to steal your money and personal information. Beware of emails and websites: They can be nothing but scams designed to steal your personal information.
To lure you onto a fake tax refund site, fraudsters will text you or send an email that directs you to file taxes, requests your refund, or performs some other task through an attached link. Using personal information, a scammer can send an email to a would-be victim, including a link to something of interest to the recipient, that contains malware designed to carry out additional crimes. The scammer will then use the credit card details to make changes to a credit card, or on-sell that information.
If you get a text that you believe might be fraudulent, do your due diligence and Google Aoffera for info before clicking any hyperlinks and giving out any personal information. The revenue service never begins contacting taxpayers by email regarding tax bills, refunds, or economic impact payments.
Please note these are scams and SARS taxpayers should take note of the following:
- Do not open or respond to emails from unknown sources.
- Beware of emails that ask for personal, tax, banking and eFiling details (login credentials, passwords, pins, credit / debit card information, etc.).
- SARS will never request your banking details in any communication that you receive via post, email, or SMS. However, for the purpose of telephonic engagement and authentication purposes, SARS will verify your personal details. Importantly, SARS will not send you any hyperlinks to other websites – even those of banks.
- Beware of false SMSs.
- SARS does not send *.htm or *.html attachments.
- SARS will never ask for your credit card details.
Once on fraudulent websites offering a refund, you risk disclosing personal information, such as a home address, date of birth, and individual tax identification number. Be wary of emails asking you to provide personal, tax, bank, and E-file details (login credentials, passwords, PINs, credit/debit card information, etc.). These emails include links to bogus forms and fake websites made to appear like the real thing, but the goal is to trick individuals into entering personal information, such as bank account details, that a criminal will then extract and use fraudulently.