Avoid IRS Scams This Tax Season
Tax season is almost upon us, and taxpayers will have to worry about tax refunds being stolen by con artists in the wake of the Equifax data breach. This data breach exposed the personal information of millions of Americans, and con artists have had plenty of time to purchase the stolen credit files that contain all the information needed to file a fake tax return.
This is only one of the things you will have to worry about during the tax season since scammers will still use old techniques to impersonate the IRS to try and obtain your personal information or get you to transfer money.
Tax Refund Emails
Scammers often target senior citizens with these emails because these Internet users are more likely to believe that they are receiving a genuine email from the IRS. These emails usually ask you to follow a link and to enter your personal information to claim your tax refund.
You should know that the IRS never sends emails to taxpayers.
Claiming That You Owe Money
This is a common phone scam that targets senior citizens, but con artists are also using this method online. They will contact a person, usually via email, and claim that they owe money to the IRS.
These scammers can be very convincing and even share their IRS employee identification number. The tell-tale sign that you are dealing with an online scammer is that they will request the money right away. You will usually need to pay via wire transfer, but some scammer might try to request gift cards.
The IRS will never contact you via email or over the phone to ask that you pay your tax bill right away. If you have a doubt, contact the IRS yourself to find out what your balance is.
The Equifax data breach resulted in hackers accessing Social Security Numbers for pretty much anyone who had a recent credit history. It is likely that there will be more stolen tax refund than usual this tax season because of this breach.
Here is what you can do:
- Check your credit report now and look for signs of fraudulent activity.
- Create an online service account with the IRS to see if your taxes have been filed early.
- Use the Where’s My Refund feature to see if a tax refund is on its way.
- File your taxes as early as possible so scammers don’t have a chance to do it before you.
- If you find that someone else already filed your taxes, call the IRS or file form 14039.
If you have any doubts about a letter you receive, an email, or a phone call, the best thing to do is to contact the IRS yourself to see if you owe any money or if there is an issue with your tax refund. You should also be on the lookout for signs of identity theft due to the Equifax data breach.