Monday, March 11, 2013

Common Tax Scams

It's tax season the U.S. That means scammers have a particular target this time of year, to see if they can trick more people into clicking on links, landing on fake pages, and forwarding money via wire transfer. The scammers will target low-income people and senior citizens, but really - they often just play a numbers game - sending out hundreds of thousands of emails and just working the percentage of people who reply to their first email. Or click on the links in their first email.

And right behind the scammers, out purely for your information or cash, are the slimy businesses out to make a buck by promising a better return (they will sometimes do this by filing deductions you are not actually qualified for). And the scammers pretending to be an IRS agent or a former IRS agent and charging money for special information they know (they typically are not associated with the IRS at all).

The IRS will NEVER contact taxpayers by email, text message or social media to request personal or financial information. They just don't do this. So don't believe anyone telling you otherwise. The IRS contact is done by postal mail.

The IRS also does not initiate phone calls to people. That will also be a scammer. Some of these calls will claim to have a refund ready for you and ask you to call them back. The goal will be to collect your bank account information. Their cover story will be so they can deposit the money there. But once they have your bank account info, they will go online and clean it out. They may ask for your credit card info for "security reasons" and then start making charges on it. Some will say there is a mistake on your return and they need to discuss it. Don't give them ANY information until you verify who they are through independent sources. Really, the IRS works by regular "snail mail". If someone calls you on the phone claiming to be from the IRS, ask them for your name and social security number. A scammer won't know this and that will end the conversation immediately.

And if you are not sure, never provide ANY information, ask for a number to call them back on (say you are busy or something), and then go look up the REAL IRS phone number (1-800-829-1040) and call and ask if that call could be legitimate. But really any time someone initiates the first call and says they are from the IRS.... is not from the IRS. That is easy to remember.

No comments:

Post a Comment