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Don’t Fall Victim to IRS Scams

  • By Lauri Paxton
  • 22 Jul, 2014
The IRS compiles a Dirty Dozen list of scams taxpayers may encounter during the year. It’s no surprise that Identity Theft tops the list. Every day businesses and retailers are being targeted by hackers located in the United States as well as countries such as China and Russia. Success to these hackers means access to your personal information. Information that can be used to gain access your identity and to file a return in your name during next year’s tax season.
The IRS isn’t immune to these scams either.According to IRS Commissioner John Koskinem, “These schemes jump every year at tax time. Scams can be sophisticated and take many different forms. We urge people to protect themselves and use caution when viewing e-mails, receiving telephone calls or getting advice on tax issues.”
These are the top 5 schemes that target taxpayers:
  • Identity Theft.To no one’s surprise, Identity Theft tops the IRS list of scams this year. Scammers having your identity file your return and take the cash leaving you to prove that the person who received the refund really isn’t you. The IRS has set up an identity protection page should you wish to know more. IRS identity theft .
  • Phone scams.This tax scam has appeared on the IRS list for many years. These scammers may have some of your personal information (including your Social Security number). They may indicate you’re due a large refund or threaten a lawsuit if a payment isn’t immediately made. The caller ID can be spoofed to appear it’s an 800 number from the IRS when it really isn’t. The bottom line? Never give information over the phone to someone claiming to be from the IRS when they call. If you know you don’t owe any taxes and receive a call such as this, then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.
  • Phishing emails.This recurring scam involves receiving fake emails from the IRS. Remember the IRS does not initiate contact through emails. If you are a target to these emails, it can be reported to the IRS by sending it to phishing@irs.gov . In addition, the IRS has information on protecting yourself against phishing scams .
  • Offshore accounts.Although the IRS recognizes that there are legitimate reasons for maintaining financial accounts abroad, it has made progress in identifying those hiding assets in off-shore accounts. These individuals hide income and then use debit cards, wire transfers and credit cards to access these funds. If you have money in foreign accounts, you must understand the reporting requirements or you could be subject to substantial fines and/or prosecution.
  • Donating to invalid charitable organizations.We all have our favorite charities that we choose to support, but what happens after a major disaster such as tornadoes or hurricanes. Many charitable givers are scammed into making donations to fake charities believing they are supporting their fellow Americans in the wake of despair. In addition, new IRS charitable organization reporting requirements are not being followed by many organizations which make donations to them non-deductible. If in doubt – click on the IRS Exempt Organization page before making any decision.
The bottom line, remain vigilant in protecting yourself against anyone or anything trying to gain access to you information. Monitor your bank and credit card accounts and consider enrolling in some type of identity theft protection program.
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