For each of us, income tax time is stressful to say the least. So when, apart from the usual stress, tax-related fraud clouds the already dull picture of the season, taxpayers seem to not know where to exist.
As the income tax season nears, two distinct types of fraud have become news headliners.
The first of these two fraud types involves a wave of telephone calls allegedly stemming from the Internal Revenue Service. The threatening calls have been repeatedly reported to the Connecticut Better Business Bureau and involve individuals claiming to be IRS employees. These individuals demand certain payments and threaten citizens with arrest if they fail to comply. In the case of recent immigrants, other threats include jail terms and deportation.
What makes these calls particularly dangerous is the fact that callers recite their interlocutor’s personal information (which was most likely obtained through identity theft). After mentioning the person’s address, the last digits of his or her Social Security number, the imposter requires his interlocutor to immediately pay the debt via credit- or debit-card.
The scammers often use a phony badge number or alter their caller ID to make it appear as if they are indeed calling from the agency.”
Howard Schwartz, the BBB Executive Communication director explains.
The impostors often use caller ID spoofing technology to convince their victims that they are truly calling from an IRS office. This particularly macabre scam has already caused 3,000 victims and a total of $14 million lost, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration reports.
The other problem to steer clear of involves criminals who hijack refunds and commit income tax fraud. Such imposters go about by filling income tax returns in the names of other people and claiming their refunds. Of course, such criminals require personal information obtained from a plethora of sources.
As the IRS reports, such schemes are widespread across the US. In 2014 alone, nearly three million dollars were sent as refunds to criminals who had filed false documents.
The IRS is collaborating with law enforcement in order to pursue such criminals. Additionally, they are attempting to identify the exact systems employed so as to discourage such scammers.
Consider using firewalls and antiviruses, as well as making sure that passwords are as secure as possible, so that information such as Social Security numbers and addresses don’t land in the wrong hands.
Be cautious of tax preparers attempting to convince you that they can obtain larger refunds, who ask you that refunds be sent to their addresses or base their fees on percentages. Always remember that you are the sole person responsible for the accuracy of the information provided on your tax return.
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