It’s that time of year again. You’re prepping your taxes and scammers are prepping their attempt at stealing your info and money. Here are a few common tax scams to be wary of this time of year.
“Hello, Mr. Smith. I’m with the IRS and calling to inform you that you owe $5,000 in unpaid tax debts.”
These are terrifying words to hear when you pick up the phone but don’t panic. Evaluate. Do you know of money that you owe to the IRS? Is the person being demanding, requesting money, or threatening to take legal action? Then you’re probably talking to a scammer. Hang the phone up and contact the IRS directly to seek out information and to report the scam phone call.
IRS Ransomware Scam
Ransomware is software that is installed on your computer or phone that prevents you from using your device until you pay the scammer. These scams start with an email, a website, or a social media link that you simply click. With that one click, you install malicious content on your computer or phone that takes over your device. You’ll receive a pop-up that requests that you pay or call a number to make a payment to the person who has your computer hijacked.
How do you avoid this type of scam? Never click an email, website, or social media link that you’re not familiar with.
Identity Theft and Your Taxes
If your identity has been stolen, the thief who stole your information could cause additional damage by filing taxes in your name so that they can collect the refund. If you have experienced identity theft, it’s diligent to report the fraudulent activity to the IRS. They can put a fraud alert on your credit reports.
What if you receive a notification from the IRS that your taxes have been filed, but you haven’t filed them yet? Let the IRS know right away. It’s likely your information has been stolen and you were unaware.
Student Tax Scams
You receive an email stating that you owe “Federal Student Taxes” that cost $3,000. Don’t pay them! Scammers will reach out to victims through email, phone calls, and texts claiming to be from the IRS and asking for a tax that doesn’t exist. If you’re unsure whether a tax is legitimate or not, be sure to reach out to the IRS immediately. Never click a link and never give out account or payment information to someone who emails, calls or texts you with this claim.
Email, Calls, and Texting
As always, be wary of any email, phone calls, or text messages you receive. A scammer can use language and tricks to make you think they’re legitimately from the IRS and then ask for your personal data. A few deceptions they will use are….
- The caller ID could say IRS.
- The caller can provide you with fake IRS badge numbers and names.
- They could use language like “we’re processing your request”, “your payment has processed” or “your filing is incomplete”.
- A text message might attempt to get you to click a link.
There are many other ploys a scammer may use in an attempt to trick you into giving them your information, but you can avoid them. Simply be diligent when you respond to phone calls and communication that appears to be from the IRS. Don’t give out personal info, don’t click a suspicious link, and never send someone money without double-checking your resources by calling the IRS directly.
You can visit the IRS’s website for more information.