Many people have fallen victim to tax scams—costing them not only a significant amount of money, but also their personal information. Scams regarding rebates, refunds, tax law changes and audits are designed to trick you into giving up your personal information, and unfortunately, these scams are consistently circulating and are particularly high at this time of the year.
In order to protect yourself from tax scams, you need to be aware what these unsolicited calls or emails may look like. The examples below will help you recognize when you are being scammed.
Rebate Call – “You are entitled to a sizable rebate for filing your taxes early,” to process they require your bank account information for the direct deposit. If you refuse to supply this information they will tell you that you will not be able to receive the rebate.
Refund – You are entitled to a “refund” at least this is what the email claims. You are instructed to click on the link to access the refund claim form. The form asks for your personal information for the scammer to use as they please.
Changes to the Tax Law – This email alerts you of changes in the tax law with a focus on deductions and tax savings. When you click on the link you download a malware; malware is malicious software that can take over a computer hard drive, giving someone remote access to the computer, or it could look for passwords and other information to send to the scammer. These are just two examples of what malware is and can do.
Paper Check – “Your refund check has not been cashed,” says the caller. They need your bank account information to send you your refund. In reality, the IRS leaves it up to you if you cash your check or not.
Audit – This email will get everyone’s attention and scammers know it. The email directs you to click on the link to fill out the forms with personal and account information; which they use to steal your identity.
Third Party Debt Collection – You owe back taxes to the IRS and unless you wire the money or pay by credit card within the hour, local law enforcement will come and arrest you. The IRS will never collect taxes in this manner and local law enforcement does not get involved in these situations.
Now that you know what these scams look like, here are a few things to remember to prevent you from falling for them:
The IRS does NOT send unsolicited emails about tax account matters.
The IRS uses the information on your tax return to process your refund.
Filing a tax return is the only way to apply for a tax refund.
To track your refund, go to irs.gov and click on “Where’s My Refund?”
Anyone wishing to access the IRS website should initiate the contact by typing in irs.gov and not clicking on any link provided in communication.
The bottom line is, upon receiving an unsolicited call or email from someone claiming to be with the IRS, red flags should immediately go up. If you receive one of these suspicious phone calls or emails, please report this to the IRS by contacting them at email@example.com.