March 20 2018

FTC Warns of Possible Tax Scam

By: BNEWS

Tax season is upon us and we all need to hand in our taxes as quickly as possible before the April 17 deadline. Unfortunately this gives tax scammers an opportunity to lure people in with new ways to steal their personal information and money.


According to the Federal Trade Commission, scammers are using the tax system to steals people’s money.


In one scenario the identity thieves will file a fake tax return and have the refund deposited into your bank account. The thieves will then contact you, often by phone, and posing as the IRS or debt collectors for the IRS demand you return the money to the IRS. But following the thieves’ instructions actually sends the money to them.


In another scenario, people will get an automated call, allegedly from the IRS, threatening you with criminal fraud charges, an arrest warrant, and “blacklisting” of your Social Security number. The caller gives you a case number and a telephone number to call to return the refund.


Criminals are also using imposter tax preparation sites and phone numbers to steal peoples’ personal information through an online database.


Tax filers will go online to find a tax preparation service to prepare and e-file your tax return. But instead of landing on a legitimate site, you mis-click to a look-alike site created by scammers. The site looks real, and it’s set up to collect personal information that can be used to commit fraud, including identity theft.  

The FTC has listed these tips to fight off any tax identity theft:


-File your tax return early in the tax season, if you can.


-Use a secure internet connection if you file electronically, or mail your tax return directly from the post office.


-When using an online tax preparation service, look for the tax preparer identification number. The IRS requires all paid tax preparers to have one before filing any returns.


-To determine if a website is encrypted, look for https at the start of the web address (the “s” is for secure). Some websites use encryption only on the sign-in page, but if any part of your session isn’t encrypted, your entire account could be vulnerable. Look for https on every page you visit, not just when you sign in.


-Ask tax preparers about their data security policies, and how they protect your information.


-Respond to all mail from the IRS as soon as possible.


If tax identity theft happens to you, visit IdentityTheft.gov to report it to the FTC, file an Identity Theft Affidavit with the IRS electronically, and get a personal recovery plan.


 

 
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