Crooks are out yo get your IRS refund
Are you saving your money for a down payment on a home or for a renovation to the one you currently own and are counting on that tax refund check for 2018? The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officially began accepting tax returns on January 28, 2019. And as the April 15 deadline approaches, more and more identity theft criminals are out trolling for their next victims. Here are some of the most common tax scams that have surfaced over the years.
Many Americans look forward to receiving a tax refund every year, and the criminals are no different, except for wanting YOUR tax return. They start out by stealing people’s Social Security numbers and then file false returns as those individuals. The crooks usually file electronically showing a low income and high deductions. Then when the real person files their return, it is rejected by the IRS with the statement that a tax return has been already received with their Social Security number.
Does this make you hot under the collar? If you can, file early before a criminal files one in your name. Consider requesting an IP PIN from the IRS. An IP PIN is a six-digit number assigned to eligible taxpayers that helps prevent the misuse of their Social Security number on fraudulent federal income tax returns. In some states, like California, if you filed a federal tax return last year you are eligible, upon request, to receive an IP PIN. Visit www.irs.gov for more information.
Another scam finds criminals calling their victims to demand payment for an overdue tax bill for which they say payment must be made immediately. Unless payment is received, an arrest warrant will be issued by the police. On its face, this sounds ridiculous. Unfortunately, however, older Americans fall victim to this out of sheer terror. The scammers use phone spoofing to make it appear that the call is coming from the IRS, but the IRS rarely calls people. The caller can seem legitimate since they have the last four digits of your Social Security number. They may even call a second time claiming to be from your local police department or follow-up with an email. Payment is requested using a prepaid debit card, gift cards, or by wire.
Emails are yet another avenue for crooks. The possible victim gets an e-mail that looks like it legitimately came from the IRS promising a large refund. All the person needs to do is send in their Social Security number and bank account information. The IRS will then directly deposit the fake refund into their account. NEVER send your social security number by email and you’ll protect yourself from these types of scams. Oh. And happy tax season!