While tax scams can occur at any time of the year, tax scams usually peak during tax-filing season. In an effort to protect you from becoming a victim of a tax scam, we’d like to share with you some notable scams the IRS recently announced to help combat fraud and protect taxpayers:
Phone Scams – Criminals impersonating IRS agents often making aggressive calls to taxpayers demanding payment for taxes owed. They may insist the taxpayer send cash through a wire transfer, a prepaid debit or gift card. They may also threaten to arrest the taxpayer, revoke his/her driver’s license, or file a lawsuit against the taxpayer if money is not paid.
Please note that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers via phone or email. The IRS will never call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method like a wire transfer, prepaid debit card, or gift card. In general, the IRS typically will first mail a bill to any taxpayer that they show owes taxes.
Phishing — This scam involves fake emails or websites in which criminals attempt to steal personal information. Scam emails and websites can also infect a taxpayer’s computer with malware. Taxpayers should avoid opening emails or clicking on web links claiming to be from the IRS; unexpected emails purportedly from the IRS concerning large refunds or tax bills, or requesting personal information, should not be opened.
Inflated Refund Claims — Criminals sometimes pose as tax return preparers promising large federal tax refunds. During tax season, these scammers lure victims by using flyers, ads, phony storefronts, or by making presentations to local community groups promising large refunds. The scammer frequently claims false rebates, or benefits that will generate a large refund for the victim. Typically, the fraudulent refund is deposited in the scammer’s bank account, and then a large fee is deducted before the victim is paid; this practice is not used by legitimate tax preparers.
It is important to remember that taxpayers are legally responsible for the information contained on their return, even if prepared by someone else. Before selecting a tax preparer, taxpayers should do due diligence.
Fake Charities — If you plan to donate to a charity, be sure to take the time to ensure the charity is legitimate. Groups of phony charities often use names very similar to familiar organizations and have been known to steal personal information and money from unsuspecting contributors.
Securities offered through First Allied Securities, Inc., A Registered Broker/Dealer. Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through First Allied Advisory Services, Inc. A Registered Investment Adviser. The information in this material is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice.
D. Scott Peterson is CEO and head investment manager for Peterson Wealth Management may be reached at 775-673-1100/775-423-8007 or at Petersonwm.com.