Tax Scams to Watch Out For in 2020
January 10, 2020
Tax Scams to Watch Out For
It’s tax season, which means it’s tax scam season. We’ve done the research for you to uncover some of the most popular scams out there right now and what to do if you suspect someone is trying to pull one over on you.
1. IRS Phone Scam
This one has really become popular among criminals in the last few years. It happens when you get a call from someone saying they are an agent at the IRS. They go on to say that there was an error in your past taxes or that you have failed to pay past due taxes. These callers can often become aggressive and seem very intimidating, suggesting that if the money isn’t paid immediately, you will be arrested, have your driver’s license revoked, or for some be deported. Their goal is usually to keep you on the phone and have you purchase prepaid credit cards that can then be used to transfer the money to pay off the fictitious debt.
The Truth: The IRS, the Treasury, the Federal Bank, or whoever else they pretend to be, does not make harassing phone calls to secure any back due taxes. Nor do they require payment in prepaid cards over the phone. While they may seem intimidating, your best option is to hang up. If you do owe back taxes, you can call the IRS at 800-829-1040 and confirm the true amount and the proper way to resolve any payment issues.
2. Identity Theft Scam
For most people that fall victim to this scam, they don’t realize it until after it has already happened. You’ll go to submit your tax return and find that it is rejected because a tax return was already submitted under your Social Security Number. When calling to report the issue with the IRS, it is likely that you will have the burden of proving you are who you are, rather than them questioning the first person to submit a return.
The Truth: The IRS is doing work to help detect some of this by setting alerts if someone files with your name and SSN, but does it from a different address or with a different employer. Protecting yourself from this scam means being careful with your personal identifying information all year long so it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. The other way to stay ahead of these crooks is to file early and beat them to the punch.
3. IRS Phishing Scam
Phishing is when a criminal sends out emails to lure unassuming people into giving away valuable information they would normally protect. In this case you could receive an email, text, or social media message that looks very official and seems to be labeled with all the appropriate IRS logos and language. It could ask you to confirm some of the information you supplied on your tax return or offer to let you check the status of your tax return by simply entering your SSN or other personal information. Even clicking on the link could leave you susceptible to some type of tracking malware on your computer.
The Truth: The IRS does not make solicitations through social media, text, and email for your personal information. Do not click on suspicious links in emails or social media posts. If you are unsure, you can call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040 or go online to www.irs.gov and manually navigate to the page referenced in the link.
If you suspect someone is trying to scam you or someone you know, please report it promptly to the IRS Tax Fraud Hotline at 800-829-0433 or refer to the IRS website for information on reporting these, as well as other less common types of tax fraud activity.