As tax season moves into full swing we’re all anxious to get our returns back. We are not the only ones excited for our money. According to IRS, tax scams are on the rise, and even the savviest of taxpayers can fall victim if they’re not careful.
Here are some common scams to be on the lookout for:
The IRS Phone Call This scam is sophisticated and scary. Someone claiming to work for the IRS calls with some information about you: your name, your town maybe, and claims that you owe money. Often the caller is aggressive, threatening that if the money is not paid immediately you will be arrested, or some other dire consequence. The tactic scares some into giving credit card, or bank numbers over the phone for immediate payment. The scammers target the elderly, and recent immigrants, according to Business Insider.
Email Phishing Scammers pretending to be from the IRS will send an email asking for sensitive information including social security numbers, bank account information, even your license identification number. The request comes under the guise of completing missing information on your return. Once the information has been passed to the con artist it can be used to steal your identity, wipe out your bank account, or even file a false tax return.
The IRS reminds taxpayers it does not send unsolicited emails to the public, nor would it email a sensitive document such as a tax transcript
WiFi Skimming We’re a society on the go, and we do everything from our mobile phones, tablets, and laptops for speed and convenience. Experts warn however, not to work on, or file taxes from a public WiFi network. Just about anyone can access your private information from an unsecured WiFi connection. While it might seem like common sense not to file your taxes at Starbucks, or from a Whole Foods--some people don’t realize that places like hotels, public libraries or airports make you just as vulnerable.
Temporary Tax Preparers Anybody can prepare a tax return, but not just anybody should. Be wary of tax preparers who don’t meet with you in person and want to conduct all business via email. Some tax scammers make it their business to be believable: using a pop-up shop, or renting a desk in an office. The fake accountant can steal your information, inflate your refund unlawfully or charge a fee and never do the work. By the time you realize they are gone, and you are out of luck. Research your tax preparer; look for reviews from other customers who have used them, ask to see his or her Tax Preparer Registration, issued by the State Department of Taxation and Finance. Physically review your return before filing it. If your gut tells you something is wrong, it probably is.
You work hard for your money, don’t let a scammer take it from you.