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IRS Scam Call

Tax Day is quickly approaching, and this year more Americans are planning on filing their taxes online, according to McAfee’s 2021 Consumer Security Mindset Report. Filing taxes electronically is a more convenient and efficient process but may open you up to scammers hoping to steal personal information.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reported nearly $2.3 billion in tax fraud last year, a number expected to increase as more taxpayers utilize online filing systems. Avoid falling into a tax scammer’s trap by following these five important safety recommendations.

1. File early.

The earlier you prepare and submit your tax return the less time fraudsters have to gain access to your personal information, or file fraudulent documents in your name. If a hacker attempts to file using your information, the IRS will flag the return as a duplicate and block it from being e-filed.

If you have trouble filing your tax return and suspect someone may have already filed one under your Social Security Number, submit the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit form or visit IdentityTheft.gov.

2. Do not click on links sent from unfamiliar emails or phone numbers.

Phishing emails are frequently used by scammers to trick consumers into sharing highly sensitive information, like your banking details or social security number. These emails or texts often mimic a familiar store, company, or government organization and contain urgent messages that ask the victim to click on a link to a fake portal.

As a reminder, the state and federal government, especially the IRS, will never call, text, or email you requesting personal information. The preferred form of communication from government entities is standard mail.

3. Beware of fake websites.

Scammers have become highly sophisticated in their impersonations of government organizations, and it can often be difficult to verify a legitimate website from its fake counterpart. One way to check is to pay attention to the URL by looking for any misspellings or domains that do not end in the traditional .com or .gov. For example, most government and banking websites will start with https:// which signifies a safe connection, and that the website contains a security certificate.

4. Disconnect impersonator phone calls.

This time of year, phone calls from an individual pretending to be an IRS representative are more likely to occur. Impersonator calls have proven to be the most successful type of scam year after year, and it is time we hang up.

Do not entertain callers claiming to be an IRS agent, especially if they use threatening language to scare you into sharing personal information. And do not trust caller ID either – scammers can manipulate calls to appear to be from the IRS when they are not. The IRS will never call you to demand a payment or to verify sensitive information over the phone. They will generally mail you a bill instead.

5. Secure your social media.

With the amount of our personal lives that we share online, identity theft has never been easier. Especially during tax season, it only takes a fraudster one glance at your public social media profile to gather the information they need to impersonate you, including your name, age, location, family, and profession. Make sure your passwords and security questions are unique enough that someone would not be able to guess them from your publicly shared information.

If you suspect that you are a victim of a tax scam, report it immediately to the IRS or FTC. Phishing scams can be reported at phishing@irs.gov or at reportfraud.ftc.gov. For more information on identity theft, visit the IRS’s Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft.

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