Tax season is here again. Although it can be a busy time of the year, it’s important to remember that tax scams are among the most stubborn cons out there. But knowing about common tax schemes can help you avoid becoming a victim.
- File Taxes Early – If you can file before the usual April 15th deadline, you may gain an extra layer of protection against scams as the IRS would have already received your information.
- Be Wary of IRS Texts and Emails – Use caution when opening unexpected tax-related emails, texts, or social media messages, even if they look and come across legitimate. Don’t open, reply, or click any links.
- Never Download Attachments from Unverified Tax Sources – These may contain malware, which can infect your computer and deliver your sensitive information right into the scammer’s hands.
- Familiarize Yourself with the Tax Process – The more you know about how the filing and refund processes are supposed to work as well as what your rights and obligations are as a taxpayer, the harder you will be to scam.
- Keep Tax Information Private – Today, there is both digital and physical information about everyone. There are also prying eyes when it comes to both. It is important to remove your returns from your computer after you have filed, and store hard copies in a secure place.
- Be Alert for IRS Scam Calls – Through this form of phishing, a scammer makes a call and impersonates the IRS. The scammer then asks you to share sensitive information or make a payment. Disregard phone calls from people pretending to be trustworthy financial officials.
- Watch Out for Fraudulent Unemployment Claims on Your Behalf – Scammers may also try to steal your personal information to claim unemployment benefits. You may not realize it until you get a 1099-G Form from the IRS to report unemployment compensation.
- Beware of Fake Charity and Donation Requests – Criminals may set up false organizations that claim to help people. They might ask you for donations or personal financial information. But these fake charities will not have an Employer Identification Number (EIN), which is required to verify that a charity exists.