As Tax Season ends, New Scams Pop Up
As tax season ends, new forms of tax identity theft and fraud are popping up to steal your personal information or money.
These actions can happen one of two ways, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). We will help explain these two scams and give you tips the FTC is providing consumers to safeguard information and accounts.
Scam 1 - An identity thief will use your information to file a fake tax return and have any money refunded in your name deposited into your bank account. After this happens, the scammer will contact you by phone and say they are from the IRS or a debt-collecting agency. The subject of their call will be demanding that the money deposited into your account be returned and the address provided to you will send the money directly to them.
Scam 2 – Similar to the first scam, after a refund is deposited into your account, you will receive an automated call claiming to be the IRS. The call will then threaten you with criminal fraud charges, an arrest warrant, and “blacklisting” of your Social Security number. To resolve the issue, the fake IRS caller will give you a case number and a phone number to call to return the fraudulent refund.
Please note: The IRS will never call you. The agency only corresponds through the U.S. Postal Service.
Here are suggestions outlined on the FTC website, ftc.gov, to help you avoid falling victim to tax scams:
- File your tax return early in the tax season, if you can.
- Use a secure internet connection if you file electronically, or mail your tax return directly from the post office.
- When using an online tax preparation service, look for the tax preparer identification number. The IRS requires all paid tax preparers to have one before filing any returns.
- To determine if a website is encrypted, look for https at the start of the web address (the “s” is for secure). Some websites use encryption only on the sign-in page, but if any part of your session isn’t encrypted, your entire account could be vulnerable. Look for https on every page you visit, not just when you sign in.
- Ask tax preparers about their data security policies, and how they protect your information.
- Respond to all mail from the IRS as soon as possible.
- If tax identity theft happens to you, visit identitytheft.gov to report it to the FTC, file an Identity Theft Affidavit with the IRS electronically, and get a personal recovery plan.
If you ever think you’re being scammed, the FTC asks you to report it. You can report any potential identity theft or fraud at ftc.gov/complaint.