The IRS recently published the “Dirty Dozen” tax schemes that they are seeing most commonly this year. Below I’ve simplified and highlighted the key elements in these scams. Just remember that if it looks too good to be true it probably is. Play it safe and keep reading to learn how to protect yourself from these scams.
Identity Theft is when someone uses your private and personal information without your permission – usually to commit fraud or crimes. To protect yourself, be sure you know and trust all the people who have access to your information. If you aren’t sure, play it safe and don’t give up your information.
The IRS has seen a recent uptick in calling scams where scammers are pretending to be from the IRS. These scammers are trying to steal your money or your information. What they say varies from threatening arrest, to offering big refunds and everything in between. Often they are hostile or rude, and hang up abruptly only to have another scammer call back pretending to be from the local Police Department. These scammers are sophisticated – they can often fool your caller ID, or quote the last 4 digits of your social security number back to you. When in doubt – don’t give up any personal information.
Phishing is when someone uses email, social media, or any electronic means to try and steal your identity, or your money. I’ve talked about Phishing before and you can read more about it here.
Scammers are also pretending to be IRS Approved Tax Preparers. They promise BIG refunds – beyond your wildest dreams big. They offer their services in churches, in storefronts, on street corners, and online. They are often out for your identity or your refund, and they may not even file a real tax form for you. We talked last week about how to spot a real IRS Approved Tax Prepare and you can review that here.
Just remember you’re legally responsible for your tax form even if you didn’t prepare it. Ignorance is not bliss – even if you’ve been scammed. You should be given a copy of your tax form before it’s filed, and it should make sense to you. If it doesn’t, and if your preparer won’t/can’t explain it to you it’s time to get skeptical.
Written by Casey Bullard