Don’t get caught phishing this tax season; get refreshed on tax scams
Tax season is upon us, so BBB is reminding consumers of the common tax scams that may affect taxpayers this year. These scams may happen any time of the year, but strike more often during filing season as consumers finalize their tax returns.
How the scams work
Phone Scams: Callers claim to be IRS employees, using fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling.
Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a gift card or wire transfer. They may be threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting. Victims may be told they have a refund due to try to trick them into sharing private information. If the phone isn’t answered, the scammers often leave an “urgent” callback request.
Remember, the IRS will never call you and demand immediate payment or ask you to use a pre-paid card or wire transfer as a form of payment. They will never threaten you with law enforcement.
Email Phishing Scams: The IRS continues to see new and evolving phishing schemes as criminals work to victimize taxpayers throughout the year. The latest scam email circulating is one impersonating the IRS and attempting to steal tax payers’ Electronic Filing Identification Number (EFIN). The IRS states scammers are trying to use taxpayers EFINs to file fraudulent tax returns for refunds. The email has the subject line “Verifying your EFIN before e-filing.” Tax preparers are then being asked to email documents that would disclose their identities and EFINs to the scammers.
Don’t get scammed: These emails are not from the IRS. Remember, the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text message or social media to request personal or financial information. This includes requests for PIN numbers, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts. Taxpayers who get these messages should not respond to the email or click on any links. Instead, they should forward the scam emails to the IRS at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Identity Theft Scams: Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses a stolen Social Security number to file a tax return to claim a fraudulent refund. It also happens when someone uses your SSN to earn wages, but gives you the tax bill. A taxpayer’s SSN can be stolen through a data breach, a computer hack or a lost wallet. Although identity theft affects a small percentage of tax returns, it can have a major impact on victims.
Tips to avoid these scams
File early: File your tax return as early as possible to avoid a scammer filing instead.
Be secure: Use a secure internet connection if you file electronically, or mail your tax return directly from the post office.
Use the right software: If you’re filing your own taxes make sure you are using the legitimate software or website, and your anti-virus and fire-wall is up to date.
For more information
If you’ve been a victim of a tax scam, be sure to report it at BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others to spot a scam before it’s too late.
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