The IRS is warning of an increase in refund scams this filing season. The criminals who are perpetrating these scams are using victim’s Social Security numbers, dependent data, and bank account information to file fraudulent returns.
The criminals are also calling tax preparers posing as IRS agents or collections agents demanding that the refund money be returned. The criminals often threaten the taxpayer claiming they will be charged with fraud, assets will be leaned, or their social security number will be “blacklisted”.
According to the IRS website, they will never:
- Call to demand immediate payment, nor call about taxes owed without first having mailed a bill.
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
- Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
- Ask for credit or debit card over the phone.
- Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
Here are some ways you can protect yourself this filing season:
- Do not carry your Social Security card or any documents with your SSN or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) on it.
- Protect your financial information.
- Check your credit report every 12 months.
- Don’t give personal information over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you have initiated the contact or you are sure you know who you are dealing with.
- Do not open any email attachments from emails you were not expecting or do not recognize.
- Always check the sender when receiving suspect emails.
- If you are unsure if a communication is fraudulent, call your CPA for assistance in determination.
If you believe you are a victim of a fraudulent IRS scam you can report it to the IRS by calling the Tax Fraud Hotline at 1-800-829-0433.