It’s the beginning of tax season, and with it comes veritable stress, including scams. Con artists work diligently to gather personal information that can lead to your hard-earned money being stolen. Over the years, the IRS has become privy to this and crafted advice to deal with each. Here’s a look at a few common scams you may see in 2016.
Telephone Scam- A current scam involves callers claiming to be employees of the IRS telling victims they owe a substantial amount of money. They’ll make threats of arrest and fines until victims concede to pay money through a wire transfer or pre-loaded debit card. Recent immigrants are growing targets and are threatened with deportation. These “IRS” workers will even leave hostile voicemails, or become irate when speaking with you.
The IRS will never call. They’ll never email. If you owe money to the IRS, you will receive official notification of a specific amount through the mail.
Phishing Scam- To try and gather usernames and passwords that can then be used against people, scammers send fake emails with links asking for employees to update online information, such as Electronic Filing Identification Numbers. Again, the IRS will never email you. Do not click on any links sent to you by the “IRS.”
Caller ID Faking- To enhance the validity of telephone scams, some criminals have discovered a way to have caller ID systems display a seemingly legitimate IRS customer service number. Generally, these robo-calls alert people to problems involving both the IRS and other organizations, like the DMV. These never work in junction, and as stated, the IRS does not call about owing money.
Identity Theft- One of the most damaging methods of scamming comes in the form of identity theft. Thieves steal personal information (via mail, telephone, fax or email) and file tax returns on behalf of their victims. More often than not, people don’t notice until they go to complete their return and get informed it’s already been filed. The IRS does not initiate any type of taxpayer communications through these means.
Charitable organizations- A regular New Year’s resolution for many is to be more charitable. Offenders know this. You may be asked to donate money to a non-profit, and if you feel suspicious of the charity, you can check the status on the IRS’s website. Here you will learn if they are genuine, and eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions.
These free resources should not be taken as tax or legal advice. Content provided is intended as general information. Tax regulations and laws change and the impact of laws can vary. Consult a tax advisor, CPA or lawyer for guidance on your specific situation.