Tips on How to Prevent Tax Scams
We all have heard of this famous quote by Benjamin Franklin before: he once said that there are two certain things in life: death and taxes. They are unavoidable. Paying taxes, in particular, may be hard for a lot of people, but it is mandatory.
Filing tax returns is a civic responsibility that occurs annually. When the season of filing tax returns is approaching, scammers will try their best to take advantage of the whole situation and commit tax scams. It is important to not allow criminals to have the last laugh and know ways how to prevent tax scams from happening to you.
What is a tax scam and how does it work?
A tax scam is basically stealing money by stealing financial account information — Social Security numbers, passwords – anything that will prove one’s identity. You may think that there are intricacies done to make this happen, but actually, it is carried out by a simple phone call or a phishing email so it’s definitely something to be taken very seriously. Here are some of the things scammers can pull off.
Cybercriminals pretend to be an IRS official to demand payment for a bogus tax bill and threaten the person to send money whether wire transfer or through debit card. The phone calls are usually “too” aggressive and threatening, forcing the person to end up paying it. Their main goal is to trick the person into thinking that not paying for a particular tax bill will put them in such big trouble.
Identity theft is also very common. Scammers will file taxes under someone’s name to be able to steal tax returns. Expert cybercriminals know their way through the internet and may able to find information without sweat.
You do not want this very thing to happen to you.
Reduce the risk of being a victim. Here are some of our simple tips on tax scam prevention.
- File your taxes early. Do it as soon as you can. If you don’t want scammers to do it for you, be way ahead of them.
- Know that legitimate government officials will never make a phone call to demand a tax bill or payment from you, let alone ask for your important financial details.
- Only contact organizations through their customer service line. Customer service lines are typically posted on their website or other social media channels.
- Be careful when it comes to emails. Scammers use familiar companies to try to get you to click links that look harmless but really leading you into danger. If, for any reason, the email looks suspicious or you are unsure of the content or its intensions, it is always best to visit that website by directly typing the URL into your browser. Do not click the links in the email. Check the official website for notifications related to the message in the email. If it is not there, then you just avoided possible disaster from the bad guys stealing your information or worse.
- Use online banking to be able to monitor your financial accounts, view financial statements, activity, and to easily know if funds are missing. Protect your computer by installing virus protection software.
- If you still have those old documents with your confidential information, especially your financial information, instead of throwing them in the trash you may need to shred them to make sure that you are not putting yourself into an unfortunate situation. You never know who might see these documents.
- Your Social Security number is personal and you should treat it exactly like it is. Do not share this information with anyone. If there’s someone who claims to be a representative from your bank who asks for it, be wise enough not to share that information. Like we have mentioned, no government official or bank representative will ask for your personal confidential information via phone.
- Lastly, remain vigilant. Your taxes should be filed with utmost confidentiality and care. It’s not enough that you know that tax scams will not happen to you. It’s a growing trend that needs to be taken seriously. Do not be too complacent to prevent tax scam incidents.
The best way to be prevent tax scams is to be fully informed, prepared, and be cautious. Scammers will find a way to steal, and it’s your responsibility to not let that happen. Any suspicious activities or if you think you have been a victim of a tax scam, contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) right away.
Due to the current situation we are facing right now because of COVID-19, the IRS has extended the deadline for the federal tax filing to July 15, 2020. This extension was announced just in time for the CARES or Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which is a stimulus relief package for taxpayers. Part of the aid is the release of stimulus checks based on the taxpayers’ recent tax filings. File your 2019 tax return now to ensure that the IRS has your information and to save up to 15% off, file today with TurboTax.