Tax Time is upon us. Be sure to update any new account information during your tax preparation to ensure your refund is processed efficiently. Also, be alert for any tax scam during this time. Below are some tips to help you fight Tax/Identity Fraud.
How is Tax Fraud Perpetrated?
Tax fraudsters also impersonate the IRS and other tax officials to threaten taxpayers with penalties if they do not make an immediate payment. This contact may occur through websites, emails, or threatening calls and text messages that look official but are not. Sometimes, criminals request their victims pay the “penalties” via strange methods like gift cards or prepaid credit cards. It is important to remember:
The IRS will not initiate contact about payment with taxpayers by phone, email, text messages, or social media without sending an official letter in the mail first.
The IRS will not call to demand immediate payment over the phone using a specific payment method such as a debit/credit card, a prepaid card, a gift card, or a wire transfer.
The IRS will not threaten to immediately notify local police or other law-enforcement agencies to have you arrested for not paying.
The IRS will not demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount you owe.
What Can You Do?
Here are some basic tips to help you minimize the chances of becoming a victim of a tax scam:
If you haven’t already, file your taxes as soon as you can…before the scammers do it!
Be aware of phone calls, texts, emails, and websites that try to get your information, or pressure you to make a payment. If something seems suspicious, contact the organization through a known method, like their publicly posted customer service line.
Don’t click on unknown links or links from unsolicited messages.
Don’t open attachments from unsolicited messages, as they may contain malware.
Only conduct financial business over trusted websites and networks.
Shred all unneeded or old documents containing confidential and financial information.
Check your credit report regularly for unauthorized activity. Consider putting a security freeze on your credit file with the major credit bureaus if you suspect you have been targeted for identity theft.