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Watch Out for These Tax Scams

Filed under: Taxes and Planning

Mature couple talking to financial planner at home

Now that the new year has begun, tax season will soon begin. As you prepare to file your federal income taxes, you might be approached by a con artist looking to profit from your tax status. Keep an eye out for the following signs of criminal activity, and report anything suspicious to the appropriate authorities right away.

You have already filed your tax return”. Are you due for an income tax refund? Then you might be a prime target for identity thieves. Con artists often steal Social Security numbers and other personal information, file a tax return, and then pocket the victim’s refund. Be very careful about giving your Social Security number or income information to anyone other than your employer and tax accountant. If you’ve been a victim of identity theft in the past, request a special personal identification number (PIN) from the IRS so that you can safely file your income tax return.

Watch out for fake IRS agents. Criminals know that fear is a powerful motivator, and they will use it to pressure you into giving personal information over the phone. If an “IRS agent” calls to inform you that you’re being audited, might lose your professional license, or threatens other serious consequences, this is likely to be a con artist in disguise. The IRS will never ask for payment over the phone, and they won’t threaten you with law enforcement.

Don’t rely on Caller ID. Con artists know that we’re onto them, so they’ve adopted more sophisticated strategies. Your Caller ID might display what appears to be a legitimate government telephone number, even though it’s just a scammer calling you. If you’re in doubt about the caller’s identity, hang up the phone and call the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040. A real IRS representative can tell you if there is actually a problem with your tax return.

Check out those charities. If you receive a call from a charity, urging you to make a tax-deductible donation, check with the IRS to make sure the organization is actually registered with them. Tax payers have been bilked out of millions of dollars, and you can’t claim contributions to fake charities on your taxes.

Watch out for phony tax preparation scams. If you’re approached by anyone who offers to prepare your taxes for you, check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure they are a legitimate business.

When in doubt, give us a call. We can point you toward a tax preparation specialist who is on the up and up!

15236 – 2016/1/12