IRS TAX SEASON SCAMS

IRS TAX SEASON SCAMS

It’s Tax Time again!  Be on the lookout for IRS Tax Season Scams. Thieves want to trick people in order to steal their personal information, scam them out of money, or talk them into engaging in questionable behavior with their taxes.

Phishing scams – like imposter emails, calls and texts — are the No. 1 way thieves steal personal data. Don’t open links or attachments on suspicious emails. Con artists will attempt to trick you into providing your social security number and date of birth. That info allows them to file a fraudulent tax return and get a big refund – before you even get around to filing your own return.  Always try to file your tax return as early as possible.

IRS tax season scams also come by way of con artists, posing as IRS agents. They will demand money for unpaid back taxes owed. They will use fear and intimidation to convince you to send them money. Oftentimes, these imposters will instruct you to pay your fake tax bill through the purchase of gift cards.

IRS Tax Season Scams

Here’s How Many IRS Tax Season Scams Go Down:
  • Someone posting as an IRS agent calls the taxpayer and informs them their identity has been stolen.
  • The IRS imposter claims that the taxpayer’s identity was used to open up fake bank accounts.
  • Alternatively, the IRS imposter may simply claim that you owe the IRS money and then demand immediate payment.
  • The caller tells the taxpayer to buy gift cards from various stores and await further instructions.
  • The scammer then contacts the victim again telling them to provide the gift card’s access numbers.

Once a scammer has been given the access numbers from a gift card, they can anonymously collect the money loaded on the card. You, the victim, have no recourse to reverse the transaction and get your funds returned to you.

IRS USES SNAIL MAIL NOT EMAIL

Be aware that the IRS will never call or email you. If you really legitimately owe the IRS money, the IRS will always first mail you a bill. The written letter from the IRS will state how much you owe and instructions on how to remedy the amount they say you owe. You are always given the chance to agree or disagree with the stated amount owed. You are also given 30 days to respond to their letter.

Most importantly, whenever you mail a payment to the IRS, you will always make the check payable to the United States Treasury. It will need to be mailed to one of just a few locations in the U.S.  You can go online and verify where the payment needs to be mailed. The address will vary, depending on your geographic location.

IF YOU BELIEVE YOU’VE BEEN TARGETED:

  • Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to report a phone scam. Use their IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting web page or call them at 800-366-4484.
  • Report phone scams to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the FTC Complaint Assistant on FTC.gov.  Be sure to add the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
  • Report an unsolicited email, claiming to be from the IRS, or an IRS-related component like the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) by forwarding your email to the IRS at: phishing@irs.gov. Remember to change the subject line in your email to “IRS Phone Scam”.

You can read prior articles I wrote about IRS scams here and here

DETER TAX ID THEFT- FILE TAXES EARLY

Tax ID Theft is the most common form of identity theft reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for the past five years. The FTC and its partners announced they are hosting a Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week from January 29th to February 2, 2018. They will be hosting a series of free events, including webinars and Twitter chats.

Tax ID theft occurs when someone uses your stolen Social Security number to file a fraudulent tax return in order to claim a fraudulent refund.

There has been 1293 data breaches as of 12/20/17. These data breaches provide hackers with a slew of sensitive information. The Equifax breach alone exposed the names, addresses, social security numbers and birthdates of 145.5 million records. Criminals will attempt to file fraudulent tax returns using this stolen information. The big refunds that are claimed on these fraudulent returns are either sent to phony addresses or deposited into bogus bank accounts controlled by these criminals.

Tax ID Theft
IRS Tax ID Theft is Billions of Dollars a year!

The best thing you can do to protect yourself from Tax ID Theft is to file your return as early as possible to make sure your return is filed prior to that of an identity thief.  That way, you beat a would-be criminal from filing a return before you do.

 

PREVENTION TIPS TO AVOID TAX ID THEFT

  • Know your Tax Preparer – check their credentials on the IRS website
  • Beware of Preparers promising big refunds or base their fee on your refund
  • If you cannot file early, then file an extension using IRS Form 4868
  • Never carry your social security card or any document with your SSN on it
  • If mailing your return, be sure to mail it directly from the Post Office
  • If E-Filing your return, use a reputable program and a secure non-public computer
  • If you move, file a Change of Address as soon as possible – Use IRS Form-8822
  • Store copies of your returns in a secure place or save it on an external hard drive
  • Shred drafts, tax forms and all documents that contain any sensitive information
  • NEVER respond to calls, texts or emails appearing to be from the IRS. Don’t respond to threats or arrest. The IRS always initiates contact with you via a letter, sent by snail mail.

 

If you do become a victim of tax ID theft, file a police report immediately. Then, file a “paper” return with the IRS with an attached Form 14039 Identity Theft Affidavit together with a copy of the police report. This will hasten the process. You should also call the IRS specialized assistant toll-free number 800-908-4490. You can visit the IRS website for more info here: www.irs.gov/Individuals/Identity-Protection

To find out how to lessen your risk of becoming a Tax ID Theft victim during the FTC’s Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week – go here:   https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0029-tax-identity-theft-awareness-week