THE tax season is a busy one for fraudsters who try to swindle taxpayers out of their refunds.
Rob Shauvell, tax scam expert and co-founder of Abine and DeleteMe, has already seen this happen to thousands of people.
In fact, More than 2.4million Americans are targeted by people pretending to be from the IRS each year, according to Legal Jobs.
Mr Shauvell explained to The Sun that there are three common ways a scammer will try to take your refund:
- Phone calls
- Fake websites
However, he noted that “35%–45% of scams happen through emails and phone calls”.
Scammer tax emails can look quite similar to IRS emails, but there are a couple of ways to help you identify one.
One thing you can look at is the email address that it was sent from.
If it is not the IRS’s email address that is listed on its official website, it is most likely a scam.
Mr Shauvell: “Phishing emails generally contain a few personal details, like your mother’s maiden name or your past address.”
Scammers usually get this personal information off the internet or social media platforms, such as Facebook or Instagram, to make their emails look more legitimate.
This is something to be cautious of as you browse through your emails.
Phone calls are another way scammers will try to get your tax refund out of you.
Generally, the caller will identify themselves as an IRS agent and ask for your IRS tax login information.
They might also ask for personal information or other financial information to break into your account.
The last way scammers will try to trick you this tax season is through fake websites, also known as phishing sites.
Mr Shauvell explained that as technology has advanced, it has been getting harder and harder to identify these sites.
He said: “They are getting very good, and sometimes, they only have to slightly change the HTML.”
But, people are not hopeless.
If the URL doesn’t end in “irs.gov” before the URL path (all the characters after the first slash), then it is a fake site.
Mr Shauvell also has provided two preventative measures you can take so you don’t get swindled this tax season.
How to protect yourself from scams
1. Use multi-factor authentication
By putting a multi-factor authenticator on your IRS tax log-in, it will add an extra layer of security beyond just the username and password.
A multi-factor authenticator is when a user is granted access to a website or application only after successfully presenting two or more pieces of evidence.
Some types of evidence that can be used for multi-factor authentication are a verification code sent to your mobile device or email or a voice code.
2. Limit what you put online
Another action you can take is to limit the information you put online.
Scammers use your personal information to fool you into thinking they are a legitimate source.
If you think you have a lot of personal information online already, there are ways you can remove it.
One way is by signing up for DeleteMe.
This program uses an algorithm that automatically puts in requests to delete your information off of sites.
Along with speaking with this tax expert, The Sun explains how cryptocurrency is taxed.
The Sun also discusses three tax mistakes you don’t want to make, when tax refunds come out in 2022 and key tax changes for 2022.
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