As tax season heats up, officials are warning area residents to be wary of opportunistic fraudsters looking to scam them in new ways.
Scammers have found new ways to defraud their victims, from mailbox phishing to new electronic means. The IRS stated that hackers attempted to claim more than $3 billion in false refunds last year using stolen information.
“Thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and their personal information to tax scams. Scammers use the regular mail, telephone, or email to set up individuals, businesses, payroll and tax professionals,” the IRS stated. “The IRS doesn't initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. Recognize the telltale signs of a scam.”
The IRS has issued several alerts about the fraudulent use of the IRS name or logo by scammers trying to gain access to consumers’ financial information to steal their identity and assets.
Scam emails are designed to trick taxpayers into thinking these are official communications from the IRS or others in the tax industry, including tax software companies. The phishing schemes may seek information related to refunds, filing status, confirming personal information, ordering transcripts and verifying PIN information.
“Be alert to bogus emails that appear to come from your tax professional, requesting information for an IRS form. IRS doesn’t require Life Insurance and Annuity updates from taxpayers or a tax professional,” the IRS noted. “Variations can be seen via text messages. The IRS is aware of email phishing scams that include links to bogus web sites intended to mirror the official IRS web site. These emails contain the direction ‘you are to update your IRS e-file immediately.’ These emails are not from the IRS.”
According to the IRS:
- The IRS will not call or text;
- The IRS will never ask you to provide your Social Security number;
- The real IRS also won't ask you to wire money or pay with gift cards like Green Dot, Apple, eBay or Google Pay or any retail store cards;
- That's why it's so important to file early and before scammers beat you to it. But if someone did steal your identity, notify the IRS right away and request a copy of the phony return.
“It’s a nonstop battle to identify and prevent fraud by identity thieves and scam artists,” New York State Taxpayer Rights Advocate Margaret Neri said. “The Tax Department is constantly updating its award-winning analytics to keep pace with these criminals, but it’s also critical for taxpayers to be alert to common scam tactics and protect themselves.”
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