We have just completed the holiday season and now we can look forward to filing our income taxes. And between now and April 15th, numerous governmental agencies will warn us about scams related to our taxes. Some of the scams you may have heard about, others may be new. Being aware of the frauds that scammers are trying to push on you will help you to hand up the phone, or delete an unwanted email to avoid becoming victimized.
The U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration recently estimated that tax scam victims have paid more than $50 million to scammers posing as IRS agents since October 2013. That is an average of $5,200 per incident.
5 scams related to tax time include:
· IRS Scam. This scam has received a lot of publicity in recent years. And it continues to be a major scam. The key to this scam is to scare you to act and act quickly. Remember, the IRS will not call you out of the blue and demand that you pay them with an iTunes card or something similar right away. If you get a call like this, hang up.
· “Federal Student Tax.” You may receive a call demanding payment for a “federal student tax.” There is no such tax. However, the IRS says that fraudsters are hounding students and their parents to pay. It also reports that some fraudsters are threatening to report students to police if they do not pay. Hang up if you get this call.
· Fake Notices Related to the Affordable Care Act. Scammers may send you a fake notice that you owe money in relation to the Affordable Care Act. Often this is in the form of a CP2000 notice. Real CP2000 notices from the IRS are not bills, but are notices about failure to report income, payments or credits, or an overstatement of deductions. For more information about the CP2000 go to https://www.irs.gov/individuals/understanding-your-cp2000-notice.
· Verifying tax return information over the phone. Sometimes a scammer will call you, claiming to be from the IRS, and ask to verify your information on your tax return (Social Security Number, etc.). The IRS will not call you to verify your tax return information. This is another opportunity to hang up on a scammer.
· Pretending to be a tax preparer. Scammers may send you an email pretending to be from the IRS, a tax preparer or tax software company. This is an attempt at phishing to either install malware on your computer or collect your personal information for ID theft. Also, when finding a tax preparer, be sure to check yours out so that you know they will not take your personal information for ID theft or sell that information to others.
If you become a victim of a tax related scam, do the following:
· Report it to the IRS at the IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting page, https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml, or call the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, (800) 366-4484.
· File an online complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#&panel1-1.
· Call the IRS at (800) 829-1040.
Identity Theft Resource Center: