With the tax deadline looming, scammers are coming up with fresh, new twists along with their old, classic ways of trying to steal your money.
Here are the biggest scams that have been floating around this year:
In a scheme that occurs every year, scammers have been posing as real IRS employees and contacting people to tell them that they urgently owe tax money. The reason this ploy is so popular is that it can be very lucrative for the thieves due to their ability to use technology to make it appear that it is actually someone from the IRS calling. Many times the caller will threaten you with a variety of punishments, from jail time to a suspended driving license, which can cause an added level of anxiety for the victim.
This year, scammers have added a twist to their fraudulent refund scams by actually having a refund deposited into your bank account. After managing to steal your information through scamming tax professionals or through data breaches, the scammers file for a tax refund using all of your personal information. After the IRS issues you a refund that you personally never filed for, the scammer calls you, posing either as someone from a debt collection agency or as an IRS employee, and gives you details on how to return the money you received. If you receive a false refund it is important that you contact the IRS and return it to them so it does not impact any real refund you might be entitled to receive.
If you are having someone prepare your taxes for you, be careful who you pick to do it. Tax preparer fraud is another popular scam that can fool unaware people. If a tax preparer promises you a large refund before even having looked at your situation, this is a big warning sign that they might file your taxes with fraudulent information in order to make some quick cash out of you. Make sure you do some background research on the person you trust to file your taxes.
Avoiding these scams can be quite simple as long as you remain skeptical of anyone who contacts you asking for personal information. It is also important to remember that the IRS will never call to threaten you with arrest, to ask for money through a specified payment method, or to ask for your credit or debit card details. If you owe tax money the IRS will send you a bill in the mail before contacting you further. If you receive a suspicious phone call or email then contact the IRS directly to find out if it is real or to report it. Armed with this information you can protect your money and your identity this year and for years to come.