With COVID-19 pushing the tax deadline to July 15, scammers are busier than ever trying to steal your money this tax year. According to the IRS, thousands of people have lost millions of dollars as well as their personal information to tax scams, especially those individuals who are rushing to file and not paying attention to possible scam tricks.
Tax scams take on many forms. The most common type of fraudulent activity are phone scams and phishing emails. These scammers are looking to steal your identity. Many of these scams do occur during tax season and in 2019, 61 percent occurred between January and April.
Scammers can also get personal information by filing a tax return in their name. These types of scams take a great deal of time to get fixed. Be cautious of scams such as a phone call claiming you owe the IRS money and you need to wire transfer it or give someone a prepaid card. Unfortunately, many people have a knee-jerk reaction to someone claiming to be from the IRS and demanding money because taxes can be stressful and confusing. This is why scams happen more frequently near the filing deadline.
Remember the IRS will never contact you through unsolicited emails or telephone calls, but through the mail. Be suspicious of everything and anything that is coming from the IRS. Ninety-nine percent of the time, anything that is from the IRS is sent by mail.
If someone is filing online, the person should do everything to secure the internet connection. Reminders to use a private and password-protected personal network. The computer being used should also have anti-spyware and malware software.
With the $1,200 economic impact payment, scammers are also asking people to sign checks over to them or calling to verify information so they can get their payment. Many of these scams can even seem like legitimate emails, websites or calls, which is how so many people unknowingly expose themselves to threats.
Final reminder, the IRS will also never threaten a taxpayer, including telling you will get deported or in jail. These are scare tactics.