Tax Season Safety
Tax season traditionally sees larger fraud rates than other times of the year. One factor leading to increased crime is that everyone's private, confidential, sensitive data - like social security numbers, bank account numbers, passwords, and birthdates - are being accessed and used. Tax season is often a complicated, confusing time of year for most of us and criminals take advantage of this situation by posing as Tax Accountants, Bankers, or even the IRS itself. Criminals want you to hand over your information willingly, and aren't only after your tax refund - they're after the money in your accounts, and after your Identity - which ultimately allows them to take out credit and loans in your name.
If you've been, or suspect that you will be a victim of Identity Theft this year...
...contact the IRS. If you've already had your identity stolen, or you have had items or sensitive information stolen that may lead to Identity Theft, you may quality to receive a unique PIN from the IRS that will be required to file your taxes. This will help prevent a criminal with your personal information from filing your refund for you and claiming your refund into their bank account.
- Don't be enticed by promises of bigger write-offs or larger refunds. Consult your own tax professional instead.
- If you are directly targeted to use a Tax Preparer or other Tax/Refund service that guarantees you receive your refund sooner, don't respond immediately. Do your own research to establish if the person/company is reputable, and contact them back. Offers that are too good to be true, often are.
- When filing with a company, ensure they employ reputable Certified Tax Professionals. If using an online website or service, ask to contact one of the company's local Certified Tax Professionals first to verify the company's authenticity - especially if you've never used them before.
- Avoid scams over the phone. The IRS initiates all important communications via mail service.
Be On-Guard If:
- You are asked to provide sensitive information via an online web form, over e-mail, or via phone.
- You are asked to participate in an IRS survey.
- You are threatened in any way via phone or e-mail. The IRS communicates via mail service.
- You receive an e-mail or visit a website with improper grammar or spelling errors - especially misspelled government agency names or terms.
- You receive an e-mail or phone call concerning important tax law changes.
If you do your taxes online: