10 Tips to Avoid Tax-Season Scams and Identity Theft
Tax scams proliferate during the income tax filing season and identity theft is a serious problem. Here are 10 tips to help keep you from becoming a victim:
- Be suspicious of any unexpected communication supposedly from the IRS at the start of tax season.
- Don’t fall for phone and phishing email scams supposedly from the IRS. Thieves often pose as the IRS using a bogus refund scheme or warnings to pay past-due taxes. The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of e-communication, such as text messages and social media channels. Scammers also send emails that look official by incorporating the IRS logo.
- The IRS doesn’t ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential information for credit card, bank or other accounts.
- If you get an unexpected email, DO NOT open any attachments or click on any links contained in the message. Instead, forward the email to: email@example.com.
- Don’t carry your Social Security card or any documents that include your Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.
- Don’t give a business your SSN or ITIN just because they ask. Give it only when required.
- Check your credit report every 12 months.
- Protect your personal computers by using firewalls and anti-spam/virus software, updating security patches and changing passwords for Internet accounts.
- Don’t give personal information over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you have initiated the contact and are sure of the recipient
- Most preparers provide excellent service, but there are a few who are unscrupulous. As a minimum, make sure your paid tax preparer has obtained a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) and enters it on your return. All paid preparers are required to have a PTIN.