Roughly 800,000 internet financial crimes were reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) last year, and this year, scams are just as prevalent.
Last month, we noted that millions of Americans have fallen victim to IRS Social Security Number scams (where someone calls and claims your SSN has been suspended or discontinued due to an unpaid tax bill). We also discussed how scammers are using phishing emails that appear to come from the IRS, which are often infected with malware.
The IRS is also warning about a series of sophisticated phone scams. In this scenario, the recipient of the call is told they owe back taxes and that the balance must be paid immediately. If not, they could face arrest, suspension of their driver’s license, and/or suspend their business license. The good news is that this type of scam has numerous telltales, such as the caller demanding immediate payment (typically in the form of a wire transfer or prepaid debit card), using hostile language, and threatening to send law enforcement to your home, immediately, if you don’t pay.
Remember, if you owe the IRS back taxes, they will not contact you by phone or email.
Tax-return identity theft
This type of identity theft often involves a stolen social security number. Consequently, you’ll want to keep your social security card at home. (And, if you have any documents at your home that have your SSN listed on them, be sure to shred those documents before you put them in the trash.) You’ll also want to shred credit card solicitation mail, bank statements, and other sensitive financial documents.
Things to look out for
Most people don’t realize they’re a victim of identity theft until after the fact. The IRS notes that if you get a letter from the IRS about a tax return you didn’t file, you’re sent a tax transcript (that you did not request), or that you learn you’ve been assigned an Employer Identification Number (EIN), even though you didn’t request one, someone may have stolen your identity.
If you suspect your SSN has been compromised, the IRS recommends you call the number at the bottom of whatever IRS notice you’ve received. If you believe that someone has filed a fraudulent tax return in your name, you can request a copy of the fraudulent return by clicking here.
For more information on how to protect yourself from IRS scams, or to learn how working with a CPA can help ensure that your tax returns are filed safely and securely, call our office today to get started.