As the tax filing season gets underway, the IRS is warning taxpayers to be aware of various scams related to identity theft and refund fraud. A recently reported email scam uses a corporate officer’s name to request employee Forms W-2 from company payroll or human resources departments. The thieves use the employee names, social security numbers and income information to file fraudulent tax returns for tax refunds.
Other schemes include:
- Requesting fake tax payments via urgent callback requests to settle “tax bills”
- “Verifying” tax return information over the phone
- Demanding payment from students and parents for a fake “Federal Student Tax” by telephone scammers
- Sending a fraudulent IRS bill for the tax year 2015 related to the Affordable Care Act with payments being directed to an “Austin Processing Center”
It is important to note that the IRS generally corresponds via letters sent through the mail. The IRS will never call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. The IRS will not initiate contact by email or text message.
Here are a few tips to help you protect your sensitive data:
- Always use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections. Encrypt sensitive files that you store on your computer. Use strong passwords.
- Be wary of emails from email addresses you don’t recognize or email addresses that contain slight misspellings. If you do not recognize the sender, do not click on any links or download any attachments from the email. If you are unsure if the email is valid, follow up by calling the sender on a known phone number.
- Protect your personal data. Do not routinely carry your Social Security card, and make sure your tax records are secure.
If you have questions regarding correspondence you’ve received from a taxing authority, please do not hesitate to contact your MarksNelson tax professional.