Protect Yourself From Tax FraudBefore filing your tax returns, take a look at some tips and tricks to avoid scammers and keep your personal information protected:
Tax season is near its close. Originally concluding on April 15, the IRS recently extended Tax Day to May 17, giving you more time to file those 2020 returns. However, with every Tax Day comes tax scams, and it’s more important than ever to file your taxes safely and securely. Check out some tips below to make sure your tax return will end up in the right place:
Know the Basics:
First off, it is important to know how the IRS will contact you so you can avoid some of the most basic scams. The IRS will not contact you about your taxes via email, text message, or social media request. If you receive word on any of the above-mentioned vehicles, do not click any links to enter your personal information or download any attachments. Rather, delete them immediately. If you have any questions about your tax return, contact the IRS directly via their website.
Second, the IRS will never demand any immediate and specific payments, for example via credit card or gift cards. They will always send a bill via mail. Never give your credit card or bank account information to unreliable sources. Requests for these types of payments are always signs of a phishing scam.
Finally, make sure you are aware of potential phone scams. Often, scammers will pretend to be IRS agents and threaten legal action unless you provide a payment method of some sort. Once again, the IRS will never demand immediate payment over the phone if you owe any tax money. Additionally, the IRS never immediately involves local law enforcement due to missing taxes. If you receive these threatening calls, hang up the phone immediately.
Find a Diligent Tax Preparer
With COVID-19 limiting in-person gatherings between taxpayers and tax preparers, it is essential to know whether you are recruiting the right person for assistance. Because you give a tax preparer your most personal information, do your online research to ensure they are legitimate. Illegitimate preparers may ask for an up-front fee to file your taxes, then flee without doing their job.
When you’re speaking with a tax preparer, never sign a blank tax return form. Always review the content and ask as many questions as needed about your tax return before signing. Also, ensure that your tax preparer has their information and signature on the form. Keep this information handy if you receive any questions from the IRS.
Know Who to Call
Finally, if you find yourself a victim of a scam this tax season, it’s important to know who to contact. The IRS has an entire section on their website dedicated to reporting scammers and, if some succeeded in stealing your information, how to get your money back.
For more information on how to protect yourself from fraud, visit AARP’s Fraud Watch Network.