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Article: Protect Yourself from Tax Season Scams

Protect Yourself from Tax Season Scams

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  1. Protect Yourself from Tax Season Scams

Protect Yourself from Tax Season Scams

By  GWAAR Legal Services Team, 2020

 

As the deadline for tax filing approaches, unfortunately, so do tax-related

scams. These scams range from high-tech identity theft to old-fashioned fraud. The IRS has put out several consumer alerts about how to spot common scams and strategies for avoiding them. Here are some of the most popular scams out there, along with advice for how to protect yourself.

The IRS Impersonation Phone Call

Every year, scammers claiming to be IRS employees call taxpayers and demand an immediate tax payment. On caller ID, the call will appear to come from the IRS. Scammers may also attempt to contact

individuals by email or social media. They threaten and intimidate individuals into sending money immediately, often by wire transfer or gift card.

However, the IRS will never contact anyone by phone, email, or social media to demand an immediate payment, and the agency will never demand payment by wire transfer or gift card. Although debt

collectors are known to be aggressive, IRS employees may not intimidate individuals or threaten to involve law enforcement or immigration agencies. If the IRS needs to contact you, you will receive a letter in the mail. That means that if someone claiming to work for the IRS calls you, you should write down the number you received the call from and the name of the caller and then hang up. You can then call the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040. You can also view your account online at irs.gov/balance due. If

you receive a scam call or email, report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration

(TIGTA) by calling 1-800-366-4484 or at tigta.gov. You can also call the Federal Trade Commission

(FTC) at 1-877-FTC-HELP or visit ftc.gov/complaint.

 

The Refund Scam

This scam occurs after criminals have stolen sensitive personal information, like a Social Security Number (SSN) and bank account number. With this information, they can file a fraudulent tax return on

someone’s behalf. Once the refund hits that person’s bank account, a scammer impersonating an IRS

employee or a collection agent will contact the person to demand that the money be returned.

To protect yourself, be on the lookout for an unexpected tax bill, refund, or messages from the IRS or

your tax preparer about your SSN being used to file multiple tax returns. If you get a refund based on a

tax return you did not file, don’t spend the money – the IRS will want the money back. If you are a victim, you can file a complaint with the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP or ftc.gov/complaint. You can also contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490.

 

Social Security Number Scams

In this scam, people receive calls or phone messages that say their SSNs have been suspended because of “suspicious activity” or past-due taxes. The call may seem legitimate because the caller has some of their personal information, like the last four digits of their SSNs.

However, this is a scam. If someone calls and threatens to suspend your SSN, hang up immediately. If

they call back, do not answer. Write down the number and then report the call and phone number to

TIGTA by calling 1-800-366-4484 or at tigta.gov. You can also report the call via email to phishing@irs.gov (use the subject line “IRS Phone Scam”). If you do owe taxes, you can call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to discuss your payment options. The IRS will never suspend your SSN or demand that taxes be paid without giving you the chance to appeal the amount owed.

The IRS has a dedicated tax scams website where the agency publishes alerts and warnings about common scams. To learn more, please see: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-scams-consumer-alerts.

Last Updated on 4/28/2020