Avoiding Tax Time Scams

The IRS started accepting tax filings on February 12, marking the beginning of another tax season (though accountants might argue it never really ends). This is normally a time for an influx of tax-related scams, but with the pandemic still in play it might be worse. Here is some information on what to keep an eye out for, as well as some resources from the IRS regarding tax-related scams.

Phishing email is still the biggest attack avenue, as it is cheap and easy. The usual rules of thumb apply to emails:

  1. Check the sender address
  2. Hover over any links to see if they match the text
  3. Be wary of attachments
  4. Check the body of the message. Red flags are: a sense of urgency, consequences if something isn’t immediately done, or requests for payment in odd forms

The IRS has a webpage dedicated to tax scams and consumer alerts: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-scams-consumer-alerts. It is a good place to look at about common scams and how to identify them. There is also a page dedicated to helping you determine if the IRS is really on the phone or at your door: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/how-to-know-its-really-the-irs-calling-or-knocking-on-your-door.

And remember, the IRS will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes 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 taxpayers the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • Call you about an unexpected refund.

(taken from their website: http://bit.ly/2AQf8cF)

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