Tax season is here, and it’s stressful enough without the threatening and aggressive tactics of scammers impersonating the IRS. In recent years, thousands of people have lost substantial amounts of money, as well as precious personal information, to tax scams. Although you may think you’re too savvy to fall victim, it’s important to remember that every year, criminals find new and creative ways to cheat you out of your money and identity.
Phone scams, in which a caller claiming to be a representative of the IRS demands payment of an unpaid balance, are one of the most popular methods of fraud. And scammers have a lot of practice sounding convincing. They may even have figured out how to make it look like the call is coming directly from the IRS on your caller ID.
Scam emails, another method of fraud favored by criminals, will make the claim that there was a problem with your tax filing or you’re owed a refund in order to gain access to your personal information.
These scammers can go so far to file a phony tax return in your name using data stolen from tax professionals, then use various tactics to get you to send them the money the IRS deposited in your account. They’ll even pose as debt collectors!
Take Note of These Red Flags
How can you protect yourself from these scams? A little awareness can go a long way. Here are five things that the IRS will NEVER do:
- Contact you via phone, email, text message, or social media without first mailing you a notice.
- Threaten to sue, arrest, or deport you for nonpayment.
- Demand you give a credit card number, Social Security number, or other personal information over the phone or through email.
- Require use of a specific payment method such as a wire transfer or a prepaid debit card.
- Become belligerent. The IRS will never use threatening or profane language to intimidate you.
The IRS says that anyone wishing to check their account after receiving this kind of contact can visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov and register to view their account online. You will be able to see 24 months of payment history and any balance due for any given tax year.
If you notice a suspicious or erroneous deposit from the IRS in your Hanscom FCU checking account or suspect your accounts have been accessed by a tax scammer, contact us immediately at 800-656-4328 or stop by your local branch. You can also report suspicious phone or email activity to the IRS via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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