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Tax Season Is Scam Season. Protect Yourself.

Fraud Tax Scams Blog (2)

Editor’s note: This is the latest entry in our continuing series on protecting yourself against fraud. You can read additional posts about fraud here.

Frequent readers of our blog have probably noticed that it seems that every season offers a new “in” for scammers. Unfortunately, tax season is no different.

Tax Refund Fraud. Our fraud prevention specialists recommend filing your taxes as soon as possible, especially if you are due a refund. That’s because fraudsters may try to file a false tax return using your name and Social Security Number that they’ve managed to steal.

Fake IRS emails. This scam involves sending you an email complete with the IRS logo with a subject line about a tax refund (about a payment, about an update on the status of your return, etc.) The email then contains a link that asks you to provide all the information a fraudster needs to file a fake return. The IRS doesn’t send emails with status updates. It always initiates contact with taxpayers by mail.

Fake IRS phone calls. In this scam, fraudsters will call and threaten you with arrest or blocking your Social Security Number if you don’t make a tax payment by debit or credit card or even a gift card. Simply hang up. The IRS doesn’t take those methods of payment. Again, it’s important to remember the IRS always initiates contact with taxpayers by mail.

NOTE: If you really do owe the IRS money, you can determine that by going to the IRS website and logging in to your online account.

“Ghost” Tax Return Preparer. Someone who prepares your taxes for you is required to sign all tax returns they prepare. Someone who does not sign a tax return may be a fraudster looking to make money by promising to get you a big refund.

Fake websites. If you are using an online tax preparation service, make sure you go to the website directly, rather than following links in emails or texts that may appear to be correct, but really are fake websites designed to steal your information.

As always, be wary, and think before you click.


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