Tax season is here and that means so are tax-related scams. IRS scammers have all kinds of ways of getting people to compromise their personal information. However, if you know what they are and what to look for, you can protect yourself from becoming a victim.
Here are some common tax scams:
- IRS phone scams: IRS phone scams try and trick you into believing they are a representative from the IRS. It’s important to never verify any of your personal data—simply hang up.
- Phishing emails: Scammers send emails claiming to be from the IRS and offering help with returns and refunds. These emails are an attempt to gain access to a victim’s personal information, trick them into giving up money, or infect them with malware.
- Ghost preparers: These are fake tax preparers who pretend to do your taxes, but then run off with the tax preparation fee or even your tax refund. Whenever you pay someone to do your taxes, they must have a valid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) and sign your return once complete.
It’s important to understand, the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. The IRS initiates most contacts through regular mail delivered by the United States Postal Service.
The IRS will never:
- Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. The IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
- Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
- Demand that taxes be paid without giving taxpayers the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
- Call unexpectedly about a tax refund.
Here are prevention tips to keep in mind this tax season.
- Avoid emails claiming to be from IRS.
- Never trust a phone call claiming to be from IRS.
- Keep your personal information private.
- If you have any questions about whether someone or something is legitimate, research the source before providing any personal information.
And if you think you are a victim to a tax scam, call the IRS immediately.