Tax season is upon us and people are rushing to pull together their important documents before the April 18th deadline. With filing taxes comes along the risk of potential scammers (did you know between October 2013 and August 2015, the IRS logged over $20 million in losses just from one type of scam?), and we're here to help you fight back with a few must-know tips from BeenVerified’s Communications Director Justin Lavelle.
IRS Phone Scams — If you haven’t already been attacked by one of these prevalent scams consider yourself a lucky one. While IRS phone scams are an all-year round threat, they will likely amp up through now through deadline day and beyond. The key to avoiding being hit by these scams is to know that the IRS does not make threatening phone calls nor do they request wire transfers over the phone. If someone calls saying they are from the IRS, have the confidence to hang up the phone and don’t call back if they leave a voicemail.
Online Tax Software Phishing Emails — A newer emerging tax season threat executed by con artists sending phishing emails with official looking logos from mainstream online tax providers. These con artists are looking for you to part with social security number and other key details, or trying to infect your computer with malware. Your safest bet is to not open any emails or click on any links that you’re not 100% sure about.
Fake Tax Refund ID Theft Scams — Beware! Identity thieves will steal social security numbers to file fraudulent tax returns and get a large tax refund early in the season. Guard your social security number and online identity fiercely. Paperless e-filing and online tax software has actually made it easier for this type of scam to proliferate. Also watch closely for your W2’s to arrive in the mail. If they’re not delivered in a timely manner, start getting to the bottom of where they went and if they were filed falsely.
An Invitation to High-Priced Seminars — A long-running tax-season scam involves invitations to seminars, typically costing upwards of $1,000, where attendees are given bullet-proof strategies for lessening their tax bill or avoiding certain types of taxes altogether. Unfortunately, most of these strategies are either invalid or outdated, and completely useless when dealing with the IRS. When participants figure it out any trace of the con artists have vanished.
Tax Return Preparer Fraud — Unfortunately there are an unsavory bunch of people acting as tax return preparers falsely preparing your taxes. Most tax professionals provide honest high-quality service, but there are some dishonest preparers who act as a business preparing taxes to perpetrate refund fraud, identity theft and other scams. Return preparers are a vital part of the U.S. tax system with about 60% of taxpayers use tax professionals to prepare their returns. To find a trustworthy tax preparer, check with the Better Business Bureau, use a well-known and respected company or get a referral from a friend or co-worker.