Attorney General Bonta Issues Consumers Alert with Tips to Safely File Taxes and Prevent Tax-Related Identity Scams

Friday, March 25, 2022
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

Urges Californians to report suspected tax scams to

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today issued a consumer alert with tips on filing and preparing taxes safely and preventing tax-related identity theft. As Tax Day approaches, many Californians may seek out assistance with filing their state and federal tax returns. To avoid falling victim to a tax-related scam, Attorney General Bonta advises Californians to file early, beware of common scams, and take actions to protect their identity.

“As working families face an increased cost of living, many are anxiously waiting for their tax refund to put some money back in their pockets,” said Attorney General Bonta. “With Tax Day just around the corner, we want to make sure that these hardworking Californians don’t fall victim to tax-related fraud or scams. I encourage Californians to review our website for tools, tips, and resources to make filing taxes easier and safer at And if you believe you are the victim of a tax-related scam, report it at”

Beware of Tax-Related Identity Scams:

Tax-related scams are common around tax season. As Tax Day approaches, be wary of scammers claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB). Scammers will often use harassment and high-pressure tactics, threatening consumers with arrest, deportation, or the loss of a driver's license if they do not receive payment, often by money wire or prepaid debit cards. Some scammers may even know information such as your Social Security number or fake the caller ID to make it appear as though the call is coming from the IRS, FTB, police, or the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Scammers may send out phishing emails that look like they are from the IRS and FTB to trick you into believing you owe money or are due for a refund. These emails often include links to official-looking websites and ask for your money or personal information so that they can steal your identity.

Identity thieves use stolen personal information to file false tax returns under someone else’s name to steal tax return refunds. Scammers usually file early in the tax season and consumers may not learn that about the theft until they try to file their taxes.

How to Protect Yourself from Tax Scams:

  • File early — You are less vulnerable to scammers if you file early and have your refund in hand.  Avoid putting yourself at risk of being the next victim and file your taxes as early as possible. 
  • Hang up the phone! — IRS and FTB will only call a person who owes taxes if they have tried to contact you by mail. Legitimate IRS and FTB agents will not threaten jail time or seek payment over the phone or through a wire transfer. Consumers should not make any payments and should contact the agency directly by looking up government contact information online. Calls impersonating the IRS should be reported to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). Those impersonating the FTB should be reported here.
  • Do NOT open the email — Never open an email or text message that says it is from the IRS or the FTB. The IRS and FTB do not use email, text message, or social media to request personal or financial information or to send notice regarding audits or refunds. Replying to the email, opening attachments, or clicking on links may enable scammers to collect your personal information or infect your computer with viruses or other malware.
  • Use a strong password  When preparing your tax return for electronic filing, be sure to use a unique strong password for your online filing accounts. A strong password is eight or more characters, including letters, numbers, and symbols. Use a unique password for each of your tax filing accounts.
  • Think beyond the password  For greater security, get an Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) for your e-filing account with the IRS. A new PIN is provided each year by the IRS. 
  • Use two-step authentication — Check on the availability of two-step authentication to protect your tax filing accounts (and other online accounts containing sensitive information, such as your email and social media accounts). Two-step authentication adds a second factor, such as a one-time use code that is sent to you by email, phone, or text. You enter that code, along with your username and password, to get access to your account.

Tax Preparation Resources:

You may qualify for free help! Many consumers turn to third-party tax preparation services for help filing their tax returns. Attorney General Bonta encourages consumers to find out if they qualify for free tax help.

  • IRS Free File — The IRS Free File program is available to those whose adjusted gross income was $73,000 or less. If you fall into this category, you may find one or more Free File Online options for you through this program. To see if you qualify for this program, check here.
  • FTB CalFile — The FTB’s CalFile program allows qualified individuals to quickly e-file their state tax return directly to the FTB, free of charge. To see if you qualify, check here.  
  • VITA/TCE — The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program provides free tax help to people who make $54,000 or less annually, persons with disabilities, and people who do not understand English well. The Tax Counseling for the Elderly program offers free tax help for all taxpayers, particularly those over 60, specializing in questions about pensions and retirement-related issues. More information on these programs is available here.

Need more time to prepare? You can also use IRS Free File to electronically request an automatic tax-filing extension, regardless of your income. You will then have until October 15 to file a return. More information on how to request an extension can be found on the IRS website.

Find a reputable tax preparer. Make sure your tax preparer is reputable and qualified to provide tax services. In California, only an attorney, certified public accountant (CPA), IRS-enrolled agent, or registered-tax preparer can prepare tax returns for a fee. To confirm whether a tax preparer is registered with the IRS, check here. 

If you believe you have been the victim of a tax-related scam or other misconduct, you can file a complaint with our office at or with the IRS

To learn about how to protect yourself and your loved ones against fraud, visit our website at

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