Tax season is a prime season for identity thieves. There are many different types of scams run by these criminals; they’ll impersonate charity workers, tax accounts or IRS agents, all with the intent of stealing your information and money.
The IRS website contains many resources for spotting fraud and taking action to protect yourself. Here are some common scams you may see this season.
1. Promises of Outlandish Refunds
You know how the saying: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” If you hear a refund amount that you can’t believe, you might want to start heading the other direction.
2. Threatening Phone Scams
IRS agents are not scary people. If you’re getting calls and voicemails from a supposed IRS agent asking for personal information and threatening you with legal action, report it! Criminals use this tactic to target the elderly and new immigrants. Even if you don’t fall in one of those categories, don’t give in if you get a hostile call.
3. Phishing Emails
Some criminals will send out an official-looking email about a tax bill or refund and ask you to provide personal information. The IRS will not send an email like this. If you receive one of these emails, ignore it or contact the IRS directly.
4. Someone Else Files as You
Identity theft increases during tax season. Criminals that have your personal information on hand can use it to file taxes and get any refund directly in their account. Chances are they’re not going to file honestly, which hurts you even more.
5. Return Preparer Fraud
There are many places to go to get help with filing a tax return. Make sure you do a proper check of the company you’re hiring. Criminals may pose as a tax preparer just to steal your identity. They may also submit a fraudulent return on your behalf to increase your refund and take a big cut.
6. Fake Charities
If you’re in a disaster area, a criminal may call saying they represent the IRS and can provide relief for you through a specific charity. You may also get calls asking for donations to a charity. Write down the name and research it later. You can always contact a charity directly and make your donation at that time.
Tips to Protect Yourself
- Do not provide your personal information to anyone that contacts you by phone or email asking for it. You can always request to contact the company directly if needed.
- Do not sign a blank tax return.
- Beware of tax preparers promising high refunds without even seeing your records.
- Avoid tax preparers who charge a fee based on the percentage of your refund.
- Review your return and make sure the bank account the refund is set to be deposited into is yours.
For more information about security, view this library.