There’s only one thing more annoying than paying your taxes: scammers trying to take advantage of you.
Unfortunately, the Internal Revenue Service warned Americans about new tax fraud scams to take advantage of tax payers and preparers.
These schemes are present year-round, but there’s a notable uptick during tax season when people are stressed and trying to file on time. And they usually involve a form of identity theft.
“We emphasize this all the time: vigorously protect your personal information,” said Jeff Taylor, head of commercial fraud forensics at Regions Bank. “Tax season is an opportune time for criminals to try to use your identity for their financial gain, and they’ll use our own anxiety against us.”
The IRS has strengthened its defenses against these scams, but fraudsters are constantly seeking new ways to create havoc. These are some of the methods they will use to take advantage.
- Phishing – Scammers will send you an email allegedly from the IRS or even your state or local tax assessor offering either a phony tax refund or warning of dire penalties. Remember, official IRS communications usually come through the mailbox.
- Smishing – Scammers will send text messages warning “your account is on hold” or “unusual activity report,” urging you to respond immediately The first give away to potential fraud is the means of communication. The second is the urgency.
- Red Flags to ongoing scams – They could include a W-2 from an unknown employer, a tax transcript that you never ordered or a letter or email from a preparer notifying you of a new online account. The latter is easy to confirm – just call your preparer.
As always, be vigilant.
5 Tips to Stay Safe from Tax Fraud Scams
During tax season, keep these easy-to-follow tips in mind to keep safe from tax fraud scams.
- Don’t trust unsolicited messages. If you get an urgent text, email or phone call requiring immediate attention, remind yourself that’s now the IRS does business.
- Those unsolicited messages include respectable tax preparer services promising big refunds. Remember, these messages are likely spoofed and not from legitimate sources.
- Don’t click on links in the message. If you are suspicious, forward the message to [email protected]. You’ll help protect others.
- Be wary of messages from friends or family seeking help. If you think it’s legit, verify independently with a phone call.
- Consider creating your own IRS personal account. It only takes a few minutes and can keep scammers from using your information.
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The information presented is general in nature and should not be considered, legal, accounting or tax advice. Regions reminds its customers that they should be vigilant about fraud and security and that they are responsible for taking action to protect their computer systems. Fraud prevention requires a continuous review of your policies and practices, as the threat evolves daily. There is no guarantee that all fraudulent transactions will be prevented or that related financial losses will not occur. Visit regions.com/STOPFRAUD or speak with your Banker for further information on how you can help prevent fraud.