Tax season is here and that means scammers are working overtime to steal personal data from both individuals and businesses. This is a form of identity theft that can result in false returns, as well as, bogus loans and charges on credit accounts you didn’t open. Let’s look at some of the scams the IRS has seen so you know how to spot them!
IRS Impersonation Phone Scams: Callers claim to be an IRS agent or employee stating you owe money or have a refund waiting for you. If you’re told you owe money, the caller requests you make payment with a prepaid debit card, gift card, wire transfer, credit card, or with your banking information (routing and account numbers). They may even threaten individuals with huge fines, deportation, or loss of driver’s or business licenses.
In the case of the “refund,” callers they may offer to deposit your refund for you in your bank account if you’ll only provide them with the information to do so. Just remember the IRS will not call you in either case. Everything begins with written correspondence.
Tax Professionals: Identity thieves are increasingly targeting tax professionals to gather personal client data to file false returns. There are several scams including e-Services scams, requests to unlock tax software accounts, impersonating software providers, and several more. Tax preparers and CPAs should be alert for anything that looks suspicious and confirm all information requests from the IRS or software providers directly.
W-2 Solicitations: In this scam, data thieves impersonate a company executive who requests W-2 data from either the HR department or from the payroll processing company to obtain copies of employees W-2s. Companies should have protocols in place as to who should have access to this data to safeguard it.
Email, Phishing, and Malware: There’s been a surge in email scams including phishing seeking to trick you into revealing or sharing personal data or requesting you click on a link that gives the perpetrator access to your computer. Remember, the IRS isn’t going to send you an email.
Taxpayer Advocacy Panel: Emails from the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel, or TAP, are another type of phishing scams. These emails are usually about a refund owed to the taxpayer and attempt to trick the recipient to release personal data to receive the supposed refund.
All these scams are designed to steal your data. For more information on these scams and others, go to www.irs.gov and type in “scams” in the search field. Knowing what to look for will protect you against being taken advantage of. What do you think? Share your comments, questions, and experiences with me on my Facebook, Google +, and LinkedIn pages. I’d love to hear from you!