6 IRS Scams to Watch For This Tax Season
It’s that time of year again, tax season!
Many of us are filing our taxes online and through computer programs in lieu of traditional ways. While this makes it easier and more affordable to file ourselves, the consequences of sharing sensitive information can be costly and the number of identity theft victims has grown. According to Accounting Today, the IRS paid $5.8 billion in fraudulent refunds to identity thieves and 101,000 Social Security Numbers were used to access E-file Pins in 2013. While the IRS did manage to save $24.2 billion in fraudulent activity, scammers are getting better and better. Here are 6 IRS scams to watch this tax season.
If you have received more than one tax return file under your name from the IRS, there’s a chance your identity may have been stolen. Identity thieves will try to take someone else’s name and Social Security Number to receive undeserved tax refunds. To protect yourself against identity theft, do not carry your social security card or other sensitive personal information on you. Instead, secure sensitive information in a safe place in your home.
Have you ever received a phone call from someone claiming to be the IRS? Don’t fall for it! Scammers will often call claiming they are from the IRS and demand tax payment or sensitive information. These scammers will even go as far as threaten to arrest you in an effort to steal your identity. Be suspicious of those who ask for such information or claim to take such drastic action. Do not give them this information simply because they ask for it. Remember, the IRS will not call you to ask for a payment or sensitive information over the phone!
If you receive an email that looks like it’s from the IRS and asks for personal information, it is most likely a phishing scam. Like phone scams, phishing scams are looking to get their hands on your identity and your cash. According to The Motley Fool, the IRS saw a 400% increase in phishing scams during the 2016 tax season. Use your judgment in assessing the credibility of such an email. They may promise you certain refunds, but it is only a means to extract information. If the email looks suspicious, do not click on any links or attachment and do not respond to the email. The IRS will not contact you through email. Also pay close attention to the URL. Scammers will try and fool you with variations of the official IRS website, www.irs.gov.
“Free Money” Fliers
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers will often times target low income individuals and elderly people promising them Social Security rebates and other items they are not actually eligible for. These fraudsters might charge upfront fees to allegedly help individuals and then flee from the IRS. Victims end up getting the short-end of the stick and could possibly be hit with a large penalty of $5,000 for claiming they are eligible for certain rebates.
Another way scammers can steal your money is by pretending to be a charitable organization. Since taxpayers might receive a deduction for donating to a charity, scammers may call you to “remind” you of this tax break. Be wary of the names of these charities, as scammers will make them sound like other well-known organizations in an attempt to take your money and personal information. If you are unsure whether the charity is legitimate, don’t give out any of your personal information. Instead, consider doing some research and then contacting the charitable organization directly.
Having your identity or other sensitive information compromised can be stressful and scary. However, if you use good judgment and proceed with caution in shaky situations, there’s less of a chance you’ll have to worry about becoming a victim of identity theft. If you suspect your personal information or accounts have been hacked, contact the IRS (1-866-562-5227) to investigate the issue in more detail.