IRS Tax Scam – What’s New For 2018
The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued tax filing guidance to consumers on common what type of tax scam taxpayers may encounter this year. Every year thousands of taxpayers are scammed out of money from unscrupulous hackers who use combinations of identity theft and scams to defraud taxpayers.
Although tax scam hackers are at it throughout the year, activity certainly peaks during tax seasons – right after the new year until mid-April. Taxpayers need to be aware of common scams and protect their personal information. Recently, I wrote about the new W-2 scam where hackers request copies of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) W-2 forms. This enables hackers to teal a person’s identity including valuable information such as full name, social security number, and mailing address.
In past years tax scams such as email phishing scams, phone fraud, and fake charities have topped the list. There are two types tax scams that are especially popular this year.
Identity Theft and Banking Scam
In this tax scam hackers steal your identity including your social security number. The hackers file a tax return in the victim’s name and have a tax refund deposited to the victim’s own bank account. They then contact the victim and demand that the money be returned to the IRS, but, it is the hackers, not the IRS, contacting you. The caller may threaten the victim with criminal charges. The instructions given by the person posing as an IRS employee cause the money to be sent to the hackers.
Spoof Tax Preparation Websites
In this tax scam hackers set up fake websites with web addresses that are similar to and look like legitimate tax preparation websites When users land on one of the scam websites, they are prompted to start a tax return. IRS income tax returns require quite a bit of personal information, making it easy for hacker to collect a lot of information about the unknowing victim.
How Can You Avoid Tax Scams?
The IRS will never contact you by phone asking for money or anything else! The IRS communicates only through US Postal mail.
Although there is seemingly no way to completely avoid identity theft, credit card fraud, or missing money from a bank account, you can take stay aware of online scams and reduce your personal risk. When filing taxes online be sure that you are using a legitimate and well know income tax service. Well know names such as TurboTax and H&R block are a few large names. Always be sure that you are on their actual website and not a fake website. Spoofed (fake) websites can be hard to spot. Look at the secure certificate – make sure the tax prep website is suing security HTTPS. Take time to click on and read the certificate. The websites secure certificate must match the websites address and company ownership records.
Don’t work on your income tax over public or shared WiFi connections. This means don’t work from coffee shops, retail locations, airports, and maybe not even at work. Any shred internet connection gives hackers a chance to intercept your personally identifying information.
Michelle writes about cyber security, data privacy focusing on social media privacy as well as how to protect your IoT devices. She has worked in internet technology for over 20 years and owns METRONY, LLC. Michelle earned a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Michelle published a guide to Cyber Security for Business Travelers