Tax Season is Scam Season: Know What to Watch For

Kristina Kraus
Greater Nevada Credit Union
Tax season is here, which means it’s also open season for identity thieves and IRS impersonators. As you prepare to file your taxes, know what scams to be on the lookout for and what you can do to protect yourself.

Fake Filing

Perhaps the most common tax scam is when thieves who acquire your Social Security Number (SSN) file fake returns in your name, listing numerous deductions to get a maximum refund. Victims typically find out when they go to file their own taxes and get notified that their SSN has already been used to file.

To avoid a fake filing situation, never carry your SSN card or give your number out unnecessarily. You should also file your taxes as early as possible. Even if you owe money, you can still file and not pay right away. You have until April 18, 2016 to pay your taxes.

IRS Impersonations

Tax scammers also commonly impersonate the IRS in order to intimidate you into giving them money. They claim that you owe money and if you don’t pay immediately a warrant will go out for your arrest. To top it off, with caller ID spoofing technology, it might even look like the real IRS is calling you because the number will match the real IRS’ customer service number. 

To avoid this sort of impersonation scam, know that the IRS will never do these things:
  • Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill;
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe;
  • Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card;
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone; or
  • Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

Tax Preparers Beware

Tax preparers are also not immune to tax thieves. Last year, a phishing email made its way around to various tax preparers asking them to update their IRS e-services portal information.  If you come across this email or one you think might not be legitimate, be sure to contact the IRS.

General Tips

Unfortunately, more than just tax thieves exist. There are many other types of thieves who will try to steal your money and identity. Keeping your contact information up to date with your financial institution is important, so you can be alerted if potential fraud on your accounts has been detected. Also know that most financial institutions, including Greater Nevada, will never ask for your personal or account information via email.

For all other tips and resources, visit Greater Nevada’s Identity Theft Protection page, and if you do become an identity theft victim, be sure to follow these steps from the IRS.