Every year, the IRS releases a list of several scams to be extra vigilant to avoid during tax season. If you rely on a trusted bookkeeping and accounting service to take care of your taxes, you’ll have little to worry about. But if you’re handling your taxes yourself, you’ll need to watch out for some of the most common ones. The following scams top the list of recent IRS warnings.
ONE | Fake Phone Calls
This scam is the most commonly reported, in which con artists pretending to be IRS agents call and insist you haven’t properly paid your taxes and owe a large sum of delinquent monies. They then use intimidation and threats of arrest if you don’t pay up immediately.
However, the IRS will never contact you by phone and threaten to throw you in jail if you don’t pay up on the spot. They will always first contact you by mail. If they claim that there’s a discrepancy in the amount owed, they’ll allow you an opportunity to appeal.
TWO | Phishing Scams
Like the previous scam, only con artists contact you via email asking for personal information and often include links to a fake website allegedly in reference to your tax bill. These sites often contain spyware or malware and can harm your computer or harvest other information from your hard drive.
The IRS will never email you or direct you to a website without prior contact via an official letter through the USPS. Forward any suspicious communication to email@example.com.
THREE | Verifying Your Tax Information
In this scam, the con artist calls or emails the victim asking for information such as bank information, and in particular, the last 4 digits of your Social Security number, claiming that they need to verify something related to your taxes. However, you should never give out such information over the phone or internet, and as previously mentioned, the IRS will never contact you this way for personal information.
If the person on the other end claims to be from a tax preparation agency, simply hang up and call or email a tax preparation professional you know and trust to find out if the info you were asked for is truly needed.
FOUR | Preparation Fraud
Some tax preparers out there bend the rules so that you can receive the highest refund possible. But once you sign and file the return, you are the one responsible for any errors. If you decide to file your taxes yourself, be careful and do due diligence to make sure that you are not falsely claiming anything you shouldn’t or claiming larger deductions than you can justify. If you have someone else do your taxes, make sure to use a reputable firm.
When in doubt, assume it’s a scam. Anybody calling you or emailing you that claims to be from the IRS probably isn’t from the IRS! Keep up your guard so that you can save yourself a lot of trouble and money.