With the April filing season behind us, criminals are busier than ever trying to take advantage of taxpayers. From stealing an identify to claim a refund to posing as an IRS agent trying to collect taxes, there seems to be an endless array of ways for thieves to take advantage of the complex tax system.
The best way for individuals to protect themselves is to remember these few facts: The IRS does NOT
…initiate contact with a taxpayer by email, text message, or social media channels.
…demand payment without the opportunity to question or appeal the amount you owe.
…demand payment using a specific payment method and will never ask for a credit card number over the phone.
…threaten to bring in local police, immigration officers, or other law enforcement.
The IRS initiates most contact through regular mail delivered by the United States Postal Service. Keeping these points in mind, you can protect yourself from many of the scams circulating today.
The IRS has taken measures to combat tax-related theft by creating The Security Summit - a partnership between the IRS, state tax agencies, and the tax industry. This agency works primarily to fight identity theft through authentication procedures, heightened cybersecurity, encrypted information sharing, and educating the public. You can find some simple ways to protect yourself against identity theft by visiting their site.
Here at Eden Scott & Associates, P.C., we work hard to protect your data. We review our security protocols regularly, upgrade our systems frequently, use professional-grade programs with enhanced security features, and keep every physical record under lock and key.
Our clients are valued partners in protecting information, and information is a powerful tool for taxpayers to protect themselves. Here are some of the many scams you should be aware of in today’s digital climate:
IRS agents calling to “verify” tax return information – criminals use telephone numbers that mimic IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers to trick taxpayers into paying non-existent tax bills.
“Erroneous” refund calls – after stealing client data, criminals use the taxpayers’ bank account to make a deposit and then call to instruct how to return the funds.
IRS “refunds” email - used by cybercriminals to trick people into opening a link or attachment that takes people to a fake page where thieves try to steal personal information.
Natural disaster schemes - criminals and scammers often try to take advantage of the generosity of taxpayers who want to help victims of major disasters. Bogus websites, social media links, calls and emails are the most common avenues.
“Ghost” tax return preparers – a tax preparer that prints the paper return and has the taxpayer sign it and mail it in, or electronically files the return without a signature. By law, tax preparers are required to have a valid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) and include that number (along with their signature) on every tax return they prepare. Here at Eden Scott & Associates, P.C., everyone who prepares returns has a PTIN and every.single.return is signed prior to filing. How can we help you this next tax season?