Alert on Tax Scams | Business
It's that time of the year. Time to dig out those shoe boxes and oversized manila envelopes stuffed with receipts and scraps of paper. Time to find the proper tax forms and a calculator and hope for a refund. Time to have your identity stolen.
Yes, stolen. According to the IRS, the number of cases of identity theft from tax scammers is on the rise.
One of the most common forms of scamming is phishing through email or texts. The messages vary but their bottom line almost always promises you a tax refund if you take advantage of the scammer's services simply by clicking on a link and providing some information.
You can find information about tax-related scam at www.irs.gov, but here are some key points to remember.
- Don't provide personal and financial information, such as name, SSN, bank or credit card account numbers or security-related information, such as mother's maiden name, as a response to the e-mail itself or on a linked site.
- The IRS does not offer extra refunds for responding to surveys. The IRS does not do surveys.
- According to the IRS web site, you will never receive an email or telephone communication from them requesting personal information. The IRS does business the old fashioned way; though the mail.
- The IRS does not threaten people with retaliation or lower refunds if the emails or text messages are ignored.
- Be suspicious if the message contains incorrect grammar or odd phrasing.
- Don't bite if you receive a "confirmation phone call" from someone claiming to be an IRS representative who needs to verify your personal and banking information before your tax refund can be released. They may claim the reason verification is needed is because you were previously sent a check that has not been cashed.
- The IRS does not send emails about "changes to tax laws" that include a downloadable document (usually in PDF format) that are supposed to explain the new tax laws. These downloads are populated with malware that, once downloaded, will infect your computer.
- If you plan to file your taxes online, be sure you have current anti-virus, anti-spyware, and firewall protection installed.
Always check with the BBB at 1-800-675-8118 or www.cencal.bbb.org before you commit to using a tax preparer, even if they are a national company.