Accountants and tax preparers are not the only ones busy during tax season. Scammers are busy as well. Anxious taxpayers often fall victim to tax scammers’ urgent hook and trickery. Knowledge about these scams can help you protect yourself. Here are some tips so you don’t fall victim to a tax scam.
File your tax return early
Many experts agree that the best way to avoid tax ID theft is to file your taxes as early as possible before a scammer can steal your identity and file a fake tax return. Most of us delay filing taxes because of all of the work involved. Once a scammer gets access to your social security number, they have everything they need to file a tax return in your name and pocket any refund you may be entitled to.
Investigate a new tax preparer before you hire them
Be suspicious of a new tax preparer promising you a faster refund or larger return. They may lure you with this promise and then ask you to deposit your return into their account to be distributed to you later. This is a big warning sign. When hiring a new tax preparer, always investigate. Ask for a preparer’s tax identification number (PTIN). The IRS requires that anyone who prepares or assists in preparing federal tax returns for compensation have a PTIN. Ask your tax preparers for other credentials. You can check on a tax preparer on the IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications. Finally, confirm that the tax preparer will sign the return. Any paid prepare must sign a client’s return and provide their PTIN when the return is filed.
You can complain about a tax return preparer on the IRS website.
Don’t take the refund recalculation bait
Scammers send phishing emails or texts to taxpayers that they are due more money than they thought through a recalculation of their tax refund. They may think they hit the lottery but are being scammed. The email may even look legit with the IRS logo. The victim will be prompted to click a link to input personal information to claim a refund. If you take the bait, a scammer can steal your identity or financial information. The IRS never contacts you in this manner. If a mistake was made in your refund, you will be contacted by mail. The IRS never asks you for personal or financial information through email or text.
The IRS doesn’t threaten taxpayers
If you get a call or email from someone stating they are from the IRS and threatening to cancel or suspend your social security number, it is a scam. Scammers may mention overdue taxes and attempt to frighten you into providing some form of payment, payment information, or other personal information. If you receive a call like this, hang up immediately. If you receive an email, don’t respond. If you are confused, taxpayers can always view their tax information on the IRS website. This will show you any taxes you owe and provide a review of payment options.
In closing, like in other types of scams, protect yourself by avoiding clicking on any links when it comes to tax scams. Never give anyone your personal or financial information unless you are sure who you are communicating with and that they are legit. Don’t let anyone claiming they are an IRS agent scare you into making a payment or providing information. Taxpayers should report IRS, Treasury, or tax-related suspicious online, phone, or email phishing scams to firstname.lastname@example.org. Provide information in the subject line, such as IRS phone scam or IRS email scam. You can also set up an Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) with the IRS. This six-digit number prevents someone else from filing a tax return using your Social Security Number or Individual Tax Identification Number. Visit the IRS website to learn more or apply for an IP PIN.