Tax season is in full swing which means scammers are on the lookout for you, your tax information, and your refund. When you file your taxes online, it allows you to quickly get your taxes completed and the fast track to a quick refund. The downside to when you file online, it puts a big bullseye on your back, making it easier for crooks to track you with tax-related scams.
Want to stay safe? Check out these quick and easy tips to help you avoid criminals and scams this tax season.
There are many tax scams that criminals use to trick you. Check out these scams and tips to avoid them:
1. IRS phishing scams. IRS scams occur constantly and are one of the many forms of a phishing scam. IRS scams are so prevalent that the IRS is in the process of considering having tax preparers upload a headshot to decrease scams.
With an IRS scam, you will receive an “urgent alert” via email or phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS. There are many tactics they use to trick you such as:
You owe a large amount of money;
You’re due a large sum of lottery money, tax refund, or inheritance;
The IRS needs you to update your online profile.
In all of these cases look for generic greetings (instead of your name), poor grammar or typos, and conflicting web addresses. The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with you via email, text, or social media. They will never email you regarding any amount owed, or due. They will contact you via the U.S. Postal Service.
2. Social media tax scams. If you're like most people on social media, you're sharing a lot of personal details that scammers can use to take advantage of you. Criminals can use your personal information to get secure details about your life which can lead them to the dark web to see if your social security number or other information is there.
3. Fraudulent tax returns filed in your name. Tax-related identity theft happens when criminals steal your personal information, which can include your Social Security number, address, birth date, and other information, and use it to file an income tax return in your name. The sole purpose of this is so that crooks can steal your tax return.
Have you had this happen? Check out the following signs:
The IRS notifies you that an online account has been created in your name at IRS.gov and you know that you never signed up for such an account.
You file your taxes by mail. The IRS then sends you a letter stating that a tax return has already been filed with your Social Security number.
You try to file your return online only to have the IRS reject it, saying that a tax return connected to your Social Security number has already been filed.
4. W-2 phishing scams. In a W-2 phishing campaign, criminals pose as someone high up your company or organization. Then they send emails to you and other people in your organization asking for copies of W-2 forms, which include all the personal information you need to file a tax return. Sometimes these scams can occur if you accidentally send your W-2 via email and a criminal gets access to it.
Don’t respond to emails, calls, or texts asking for your information. Never send W-2 or other tax information electronically without first verifying with your boss in person or on the phone that they actually sent the request in the first place. While it might seem like a hassle, it’s worth it to spend a few minutes verifying than spend years trying to undo any damage.
More Tips to Stay Safe:
The IRS will not call you demanding immediate payment through a prepaid debit card, gift card, or wire transfer. If you do owe the IRS money, they will first mail you a bill, and you will never pay the IRS through prepaid debit cards, gift cards, or wire transfers. Scammers like to use these forms of payment because they are difficult to track.
The IRS will never threaten to have you arrested.
The IRS will never demand payment without allowing you to question or appeal what you owe.
The IRS will never ask you to give them your credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
The IRS will never suddenly call you about an unexpected refund for you.
Avoid falling prey to IRS scams by keeping your information and identity safe. Watch what you share on social media, avoid sharing your phone number with unknown people and keep your email private.
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