PSA: Now more than ever, it’s easier for your identity to be stolen. The modern ways of scammers, hackers, thieves and swindlers place a great burden on those effected: individuals, businesses, organizations, government agencies and even the IRS.
Before it happened to them, many victims weren’t aware of warning signs, gimmicks or what to look out for. Take a few minutes to read how scammers are getting their way these days, and stay up-to-date with common tactics on our brand-new Scam Tips page.
1. The IRS will ALWAYS communicate with you via U.S. Mail prior to any phone communication.
Be wary of phone calls, automated verbal messages, texts and emails that threaten legal action, demand payment or require sharing ANY personal information (social security number, credit card information, etc.). Read more about IRS Communication here.
2. ID thieves are impersonating more than just the IRS. Small business owners, pay attention to messages and requests from vendors, software programs and financial institutions.
One of our business clients received a seemingly-legitimate email from a person inside his company, requesting a wire transfer to take care of a large vendor payment. Everything about the email looked legitimate—even down to the sender’s email signature. It wasn’t until he was about authorize the transaction that he had second thoughts. After taking a second glance he found that the sender’s email address was simply one letter different than the company’s actual URL. Recently, similar things have happened with popular software programs and financial institutions.
3. Avoid promises of overly-large refunds (and know how to choose a tax preparer).
The vast majority of tax professionals provide honest, high-quality service. But there are some dishonest preparers who set up shop each filing season to perpetrate refund fraud, identity theft and other scams that hurt taxpayers. If you’ve been promised overly large refunds, been advised against e-filing or have been asked to sign a blank return, it’s likely that you’re not working with a qualified professional. Read more about how you should choose a tax preparer (and how to evaluate them).
4. Know your charities.
Con-artists tout fake non-profit organizations and charitable causes to attract donations from unsuspecting consumers. Be wary of charities with names similar to familiar or nationally known organizations. Individual taxpayers and businesses should take a few extra minutes to ensure their hard-earned money goes to legitimate and currently eligible charities. Find out how to check out the status of charitable organizations here.
5. Educate yourself on deductions and credits.
Scammers have been known to falsify returns with outrageous credits, frivolous tax arguments, padded deductions and excessive claims for business credits. Since you (and your tax preparer) are both on the hook, make sure you’re in the know.
Do you think your identity has been compromised? Our team can guide you through the process of filing a report and moving forward.
Have questions about any of the above scenarios? We’re here to be your advocate, counselor and helper. Contact our office to start the conversation.