Not only is this a busy time of year for tax payers and their CPAs, but cybercriminals increase their activity this time of year as well. Beware of scams and be prepared to spot them in order to minimize your vulnerability to tax-related identity theft. Being proactive reduces your risk.
Phone scams and email phishing are the most prevalent tax season schemes
Even the most cognizant can still fall victim to these scams. Scammers try to obtain personal information through many tactics and use that information to file fraudulent returns. The typical scam is to file fraudulent tax returns, claiming false refunds on behalf of unsuspecting taxpayers.
What will the IRS and Michigan Department of Treasury NOT do?
They will not:
- Initiate a phone call or email to ask for personal information.
- Call or email to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, you will first receive a bill through the U.S. mail if you owe taxes.
- Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
- Demand that taxes be paid without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Use unsolicited email, text messages or any social media to discuss your personal tax issue.
What is phishing?
According to Wikipedia: Phishing is the attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details, often for malicious reasons, by disguising as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication
Will I know I’m being scammed?
Cybercriminals are getting very good at disguising their emails as coming from legitimate sources, such as the IRS & Michigan Department of Treasury. They will alter names, titles and email ids to appear to be coming from trusted sources.
How do I report a scam if it happens to me?
- Taxpayers who believe they have been contacted by a scammer should report the incident to the IRS onlineor by calling 800-366-4484. To report & learn more about tax-related identity theft, go to tigta.gov
- You can file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant; To file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant, choose “Scams and Rip-Offs” and then “Impostor Scams.” If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
Consult a CPA
It can be hard to navigate a tax-related ID theft case. An experienced CPA can help answer your questions and assist you with the steps to mitigate the damage. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.