If we feel that we have far too many scams to worry about and protect ourselves from, you are right. From robocalls to free holidays to spam text messages that lead to unsafe websites, shameful people are constantly trying to trick and manipulate people with their hard-earned money.
Now that the tax season is upon us, individuals and groups will try again to help taxpayers and the US government use millions of techniques and technologies that range from old school to the latest technology Cheating dollars. It's no different this year, and the IRS feverishly warns of how to spot the red flags and strategies to stay away from the scammers' crosshairs.
Even if you have handled your sensitive data with care, the negligence of others may have put you at risk. For example, Equifax, one of the three major credit bureaus, lost control of customer data in 2017, including social security numbers, home addresses, credit card numbers, driver's license numbers, and birth dates.
The company estimates that the data of 143 million people, most of whom are in the United States, have been disclosed. The 2017 tax season can help uncover the extent of the damage, as identity thieves use stolen social security numbers to file fraudulent tax returns and get refunds.
Here is a selection list of the most popular fraud attempts – and how you can keep both your identity and your tax return safe.
The IRS impersonation phone call
How it works: One of the boldest programs in use every year are fraudsters who call and claim to represent the IRS to taxpayers and request an immediate tax payment , If you call from a phone number that appears to belong to the IRS on your caller ID, you will be threatened, harassed and intimidated to make a hasty decision. Usually, they will often ask for a gift card or bank transfer. Thieves are increasingly extending this scheme to email and social media channels.
How To Protect Yourself: Know that the IRS will never call you or appear at your home to request immediate payment, especially via a gift card or wire transfer. Although it is known that debt collection agencies are becoming intrusive, an IRS representative should never abuse, abuse or threaten to involve laws or immigration authorities.
When someone who claims to work for the IRS calls you, the IRS says you should write down the number you received the call from, the name of the caller, and then hang up. You can then call the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040 or visit irs.gov/balancedue to view your account.
Report a fraud call to the Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484 or at tigta.gov. You can also call the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP or ftc.gov/complaint[19659014‹irsjpg"data-original="https://cnet4cbsistaticcom/img/Z_96yVxB4K97ZT5T6PPwThrMn9M=/2013/besuchen04/10/6a0e2485-11e2-8c7c-d4ae52e62bcc/irsjpg”/>
The IRS has issued several warnings and warnings about frequent fraud.
The surprise reimbursement bait and switch
Here's how it works: According to the IRS, this is a "new twist on an old scam". After criminals have secured your sensitive personal information, such as social security numbers and tax forms, they can easily file a fraudulent statement on your behalf.
Once the money is deposited into your bank account, the fraudsters who claim to be someone from the IRS or a collection agency will contact you to request the return of the money not received – either by depositing it into an account or by sending to an account address.
How to Protect Yourself: Look out for an unexpected tax bill, refund, or messages from the IRS or your tax adviser about multiple tax returns that were submitted using your social security number. If you get an incorrect refund, don't go out and make a bigger purchase. The IRS will want their money back.
If you suspect you are a victim, file a complaint with the FTC. Ask the major credit bureaus to include a "fraud alert" in your file and contact the IRS at 1-800-908-4490.
Cancel or suspend your social security number
How it works: Criminals on the phone and threaten to suspend or cancel your social security number (SSN) until your overdueare paid. The scam seems legitimate because the caller has some of your personal information, including the last four digits of your SSN. But as the IRS puts it: "Make no mistake … it's a scam."
How to protect yourself: If someone calls and threatens to cancel or suspend your social security number, hang up immediately. If they call you back, don't answer. Write down the number and report the call on this website. Send an email with the subject "IRS Phone Scam" to email@example.com and include the phone number and all other relevant details in the text of the email.
If you owe taxes, you can call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to discuss your payment options. However, your social security number will not be canceled or blocked.
Fraudsters are constantly trying new things.
The IRS has its own Tax Scams website, on which the agency publishes warnings and updates on the current number of fraud attempts used. Additional frauds for which the IRS has issued warnings include "ghost tax creators" who charge someone to levy their taxes, often based on a high refund amount, and then fail to submit the tax return – leaving the customer with a tax return that has not been submitted receives and no refund.
There is also a warning for a tax transcript scam aimed at companies with a file attachment infected with Emotet malware.
The main advantage here is that if the IRS needs something from you, you will receive a letter in the mail. You will not receive an email, a call or an SMS. Letters can still be faked. It is therefore best to only use official IRS websites and telephone numbers.
In addition to preventing your tax information from being compromised, using a password manager and two-factor authentication wherever possible and learning how to identify robocalls is also a good idea.
Originally published earlier this month. Updated with new information.