Tax season is in full swing. Here are 10 ways to avoid getting scammed out of money
Tax season is stressful enough without having to worry about getting ripped off.
Here are 10 ways the IRS tells Kane In Your Corner that you can avoid tax fraud.
1. If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be with the IRS, hang up. Michael Montanez, Special Agent in Charge of the Newark IRS office, says the agency will not communicate by phone unless you request a phone call. The IRS may use a private collection agency, but you will receive numerous letters first, including one informing you that your account is being referred to collection.
2. Don’t follow links or trust phone numbers sent via email or on social media. If you want to contact the IRS, find contact information through the agency’s website, www.irs.gov.
3. Ignore any communication in which the person threatens to bring in the police. “You will not be arrested for late taxes,” Montanez says. “So, hang up the phone because that's not how we operate. Don’t respond to those kinds of calls, emails or text messages.”
4. The IRS also says it never requests payment by unorthodox means, such as gift cards or wire transfers. Those are immediate red flags indicating you’re dealing with an imposter.
5. Don’t be fooled if a caller knows your name and address. The IRS says some scammers now make their calls armed with mailing lists that have this information.
Avoiding phishing scams is only half the battle. The IRS says the biggest risk of fraud could come from your tax preparer. The agency offers the following advice.
6. Only use tax preparers who are open year-round.
7. Only use a preparer who has a Tax Preparer Identification Number (TPIN).
8. Don’t use a “ghost preparer,” who won’t sign your return. Signing the return means they are accepting responsibility for any mistakes they may have made.
9. If you are due a refund, make sure it is sent directly to your bank account. The IRS says it should not go to the preparer’s account.
10. Avoid any tax preparer who promises large refunds. “Your refund is based on what the numbers come out to,” Montanez says, “and if they're guaranteeing you a large refund, that's usually a sign that they're going to be doing something illegal on your tax return.”