It’s that special time of the year when millions of Americans examine their annual past earnings and finances. The final deadline to file your tax return this year is April 17, 2018.
Filing your taxes is a task that can certainly be tedious, but also rewarding. According to the IRS, people received an average income tax refund of about $3,050 across the states for the 2016 fiscal year.
With some getting refunds, tax season is also an opportune time for scammers out there to grab a piece for themselves.
IRS Phishing or Phone Scams
The IRS recently warned taxpayers of criminals calling potential victims posing as collection agents or IRS employees in an effort to collect their refunds. During their calls, the scammers will demand you return your tax refund to an illegitimate collection agency.
Other calls will try to scare taxpayers with possible arrest or “blacklist” of their accounts if they do not return the funds. According to their website, the IRS initiates most of its communication through regular mail delivery. They’ll send out several mail notices before making a phone call or actual visit to a taxpayer. '
It’s also important to note that the IRS does not demand immediate payment through prepaid debit cards, gift cards, or wire transfers. They will also allow you the opportunity to appeal amounts owe or balances due before receiving your payments or returned taxes. Any sort of threat or rapid demand to have your funds returned can be a clear indicator that you are dealing with a possible scam.
Avoid Tax Scams with These Tips
- Take notes. Make sure to record the supposed employee’s name and ask for a phone number so can call them back.
- Save the original voicemail or email sent by the supposed employee to report back information to the IRS.
- Don’t open any attachments or links if you receive an email claiming to come from the IRS. This could potentially contain malware and infect your personal computer.
- Look for form numbers written on letters and search for them on the IRS’s website. If the letter is legitimate, it will pop up on the IRS search engine with instructions on how to respond to the letter.
- Don’t respond. Sounds simple enough, but ignoring the phone call or email is often your best bet. Follow your instinct: if something doesn’t feel right, it’s best to ignore it and contact the IRS through their official website.
Contact and Report Scammers
If you suspect you've been contacted by a scammer posing as the IRS, The IRS lists ways to contact and report possible scammers below:
- Suspicious emails, notices, letters, text messages or faxes can be forwarded to email@example.com.
- To determine if an official IRS employee has contacted you, members can call (800) 366-4484.
- To determine if an official letter or notice was sent out to you the IRS encourages people to call (800) 829-1040 or search their database.
- For text messages received by a supposed employee, the IRS suggests reporting these occurrences by forwarding the phone number and message to (202) 552-1226. Once done, immediately delete the message.
If you have questions or concerns about tax-related scams, call your local IRS office or go to IRS.gov to learn more.