Time has flown by – it’s already tax season! During tax season, scammers are on the prowl. In 2020, The IRS Criminal Investigation identified $2.3 billion in tax fraud. That is something you do not want to be victim of! Scammers have been known to pretend to be the IRS and may contact you by phone, email, text message, and mail. Below are some common types of scams.
Refund Recalculation Scam
In this situation, you will receive a text or email from an imposter saying that the IRS recalculated your tax refund and that they owe you more money. The email may have the IRS logo and a link for you to click on to submit a fake form for the refund. The link will ask you to provide your SSN, birthday, address, driver’s license number, and other personal information.
Tip: If the IRS did make a refund mistake, they will contact you through the mail first. They will never ask for financial or personal information through email. If you get an email, do not click on any links and delete the email.
Gift Card Scams
The gift card scam is becoming more common. The criminal will call saying that you owe the IRS money and if you do not pay a penalty fee, they will charge you with criminal activity. They will instruct you to purchase the gift cards from various stores and then the scammer will ask for the card’s number and pin.
Tip: The IRS will never call you about taxes you owe or penalties. No government agency will ever demand that you pay by a gift card.
NCUA/FDIC Needs Your Bank Information
NCUA is a federal institution that insures your money if your credit union fails (FDIC is the insurance corporation for banks). The scammer will contact you through emails, phone calls, letters, text messages, and social media asking for your bank information. Scammers will claim that they are the NCUA, to get your personal information to commit fraud.
Tip: The NCUA says that they do not send unsolicited correspondence asking for money, sensitive personal information, bank account information, card numbers, SSN and will never threaten you.
Tax Transcript Email Scam
Scammers will email you claiming to be the “IRS Online”. The email will contain an attachment that has your taxpayer’s tax transcript. A tax transcript is a summary of your tax return.
Tip: A tax transcript is a real thing from the IRS, but they will never email it to you. You will need to request it from the IRS and they will send it by mail.
These are just a few types of scams, but beware there are a lot more out there. Learn more about tax scams at https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-scams-consumer-alerts.
Signs of Identity Theft
The IRS says that you may not know you’re a victim of identity theft until you’re notified by the IRS of a possible issue with your return.
Be alert to possible tax-related identity theft if:
- You get a letter from the IRS inquiring about a suspicious tax return that you did not file.
- You can’t e-file your tax return because of a duplicate Social Security Number.
- You receive a tax transcript in the mail that you did not request.
- You receive an IRS notice that an online account has been created in your name.
- You receive an IRS notice that your existing online account has been accessed or disabled when you took no action.
- You receive an IRS notice that you owe additional tax or refund offset or that you have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return.
- IRS records indicate you received wages or other income from an employer you didn’t work for.
- You’ve been assigned an Employer Identification Number, but you did not request an EIN.
Ways to Protect Yourself
- Keep your SSN in a secure place.
- Make sure your tax preparation services are a legit company.
- File your taxes early.
- If you file online, make sure you use a secure connection.
- Don’t click on unknown links.
- Don’t trust IRS calls, email, and text messages.
- Don’t send personal information through social media.
If you have experienced tax fraud, visit the IRS taxpayer guide to tax fraud to learn what your next steps should be. If you have fallen victim to identity theft, report it immediately to the Federal Trade Commission at https://www.identitytheft.gov/#/ or by phone at 1-877-438-4338. You should follow their recommended steps to make a recovery plan.
*Red Crown Credit Union is not a financial planner or advisor, and this blog gives general ideas on how to prevent fraud. Individual results may vary.