10 Tips to Avoid Tax-Season Scams and Identity Theft

Larry Villano, Publisher of Loopholelewy.com

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:

  1. Be suspicious of any unexpected communication supposedly from the IRS at the start of tax season.
  2. 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.
  3. The IRS doesn’t ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential information for credit card, bank or other accounts.
  4. 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: phishing@irs.gov.
  5. Don’t carry your Social Security card or any documents that include your Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.
  6. Don’t give a business your SSN or ITIN just because they ask. Give it only when required.
  7. Check your credit report every 12 months.
  8. Protect your personal computers by using firewalls and anti-spam/virus software, updating security patches and changing passwords for Internet accounts.
  9. 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
  10. 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.