Different Tactic, Same Goal
We’ve all heard about the phone scams that target unwary taxpayers. This year, however, the IRS is seeing a dramatic jump in online fraud attempts.
A recent IRS press release said that phishing and malware attempts have quintupled compared to the last filing season.
The scammers are sending official looking email correspondence that claims to be from the IRS. They include links to a bogus website that closely emulates the IRS site. Tax-payers are then asked to update their critical personal information, including their social security number, date of birth, and mortgage details.
How to Protect Yourself
File Early: The most important thing you can do is file, and do it early. The faster you file, the less chance there is of someone stealing your identity and filing for you. There are also a surprising number of people who don’t bother to file at all each year, because they don’t meet taxable income thresholds and they don’t understand that they may still qualify for tax credits. The Earned Income Tax Credit is a windfall for the scam artists, who target those who are
eligible but don’t bother to file.
File Electronically: It’s much easier for a scammer to steal your identity from a paper return. Be safe and do your taxes online and e-file your return. Of course you need to use common sense when e-filing. Avoid using the local coffee shop wi-fi for example. Do it at home, or have a trusted preparer do it from their office, anywhere there is a safe firewall and anti-virus software in place.
Remember the Rules
Don’t give out your personal information, over the phone or the internet, unless YOU have initiated the contact, and you are 100% sure you are dealing with the IRS. Remember, the IRS will never contact you over the phone or via email to ask for personal or tax information verification.