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Scammers and fraudsters impersonate the IRS year-round — not just during what most people think of as “tax season.” Their objective is to trick you into giving them your money or personal information. During tax season*, they get more active, presumably hoping that your stress about filing taxes might make you more vulnerable to their schemes. Arm yourself against tax scams with these five tips.
1. Learn about common types of scams so that you can recognize a scam when you see it. The IRS compiles information on each year’s top scams in a “Dirty Dozen” list and also provides a web portal on tax scams and other consumer alerts.
2. Know how the IRS works. You can hang up on scammers and delete phony emails and texts with confidence, because that is not the way the IRS would contact you if there were a legitimate tax concern. They reach out by mail first. They do not require immediate payment, and the IRS does not ask for credit or debit card numbers, gift cards, or wire transfers. If you owe money to the IRS, you will be mailed a bill and you will have the opportunity to work with the IRS on your situation. And the IRS will not threaten to arrest you. The IRS provides a helpful explanation on their website on how to know whether a phone call, email, or letter is legitimate.
3. Protect your identity and information. Follow good practice of using unique usernames and passwords for all of your online accounts and change them if you have been notified that an organization’s system has been compromised. Do not give out personal identity information to people whose legitimacy you haven’t verified.
4. Know that businesses and organizations are targeted, too. We all have to be vigilant, but those who work in human resources, education, and tax preparation should familiarize themselves with the most common ways tax scammers target them.
5. Report scams to the IRS. Protect yourself and others by reporting any tax scam you encounter as soon as possible. The IRS details how to report different types of issues on their Tax Scams – How to Report Them website.
With a little knowledge and good personal identity habits, you can spot tax scams and protect yourself against falling prey to tax scammers.
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