Don't Take the Bait!
Common Tax Scams
Con artists can sound convincing. These tax scammers are constantly scheming new ways to steal personal information and money.
Some common scenarios are.....
- Identity thieves file a fake tax return and have the refund deposited into your bank account. The thieves then contact you, often by phone, and - posing as the IRS or debt collectors for the IRS - demand you return the money to the IRS. But, following the thieves’ instructions actually sends the money to them.
- After you get that erroneous refund, you get an automated call, allegedly from the IRS, threatening you with criminal fraud charges, an arrest warrant, and “blacklisting” of your Social Security number. The caller gives you a case number and a telephone number to call to return the refund.
- Criminals use imposter tax preparation sites. Instead of landing on a legitimate site, you mis-click to a look-alike site created by scammers. The site looks real, and it’s set up to collect personal information that can be used to commit fraud, including identity theft.
Don’t take the bait! The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has these tips to fight tax identity theft:
- 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.
For more information, check out the FTC imposters webpage.
If you spot a scam, report it at ftc.gov/complaint. Your reports help the FTC and other law enforcement investigate scams and bring crooks to justice.