As it does every year, the IRS recently unveiled the list of current scams to be aware of especially considering the current crisis situation. You are encouraged to be on guard against these threats, especially schemes related to Corona virus tax relief, including Economic impact payments.
Look out for the following threats designed to steal not just your money, but your sensitive personal financial information as well.
These schemes disguise as an official email from the IRS using keywords like Covid relief and Stimulus Pay in various ways to trick you to reveal confidential information. Be cautious about all such communication and do not click on any links or open any attachments contained in a suspicious email.
Many fake charities have arisen to exploit the current pandemic situation and steal your money. Before donating to any charity, you can verify its legitimacy by asking for its Employer Identification Number (EIN) and using the search tool on IRS.gov to find qualified and legitimate charities.
Threatening Impersonator Phone Calls, Also Known As “Vishing” (Phone Phishing)
These bogus phone calls pose a major threat these days. Remember IRS will never threaten or ask for financial information over the phone or call about an unexpected refund or about economic impact payments. You should call the IRS to verify and see if there is any tax problem.
Social Media Scams
The social media scammers would impersonate as your family or friends and convince you to trust them. They may email you a link of something of your interest which could contain malware intended to infiltrate and steal sensitive personal information.
If you are a senior citizen you are more likely to be victimized with fake emails, text messages, websites and social media attempts. However, you can protect yourself against these threats by having a trusted family member or friend to take interest in your affairs.
These scams mostly take form of robocalls, although they can also be phone calls made by real persons. They are often threatening in nature, targeted towards people with limited English proficiency. If you are a recent immigrant you are more vulnerable to such scams. Make sure you ignore such phone calls and do not engage the scammers.
Unscrupulous Return Preparers
Selecting the right return preparer is very important for your financial security, as you entrust them with sensitive personal data. Be sure to avoid preparers who ask you to sign a blank return or promise a big refund even before looking at your records.
Offer In Compromise Mills
You need to be aware of companies exaggerating your chances of settling your tax debt. Offers in compromise are available only if you meet specific criteria under the law. To safeguard yourself against this threat you can use a simple Pre-Qualifier tool available on IRS.gov.
Fake Payments with Repayment Demands
If you are a victim of this threat you will see a fake refund in your bank account as a result of a bogus tax return filed by the scammer, after stealing your personal information. The scammer, posing as an IRS employee, will then ask you to pay back the money. You might be told that the IRS made an error and that you should return the money immediately in a specific manner like buying gift cards of certain denominations for the amount of the refund.
Payroll & HR Scams
The common types of such scams are gift card and direct deposit scams, which are done through compromised email accounts.
For the gift card scams, the scammer impersonates to be your employer and asks you to purchase a gift card and mail it to a specific address, to be reimbursed later.
For the direct deposit scam, the scammer, poses as the employee and asks the employer to change the employee’s direct deposit information to reroute their deposit to an account the scammer controls.
If you think you are targeted or are a victim of such threat you can file a complaint with the Federal Bureau of Investigation Internet Crime Center (IC3)
Last but not the least on the IRS list is invasive software that you might download. The malware is targeted to infect your computer, network or server and look for critical data that can be used to steal your personal information and money.
A few simple measures like using two step authentications for your accounts, getting an IRS Identity Protection PIN, using antivirus software, freezing your credit can help protect you from many of the above threats and misuse of your sensitive personal information.
If you need more information on how to obtain an IRS IP PIN or need help with your taxes, give us a call.