The start of the 2023 tax season will again bring with it multiple ways in which scammers will try to relieve you of your hard-earned money. The Internal Revenue Service is constantly reminding taxpayers to be alert to identity thieves as they continue to make aware of attempts to relieve you of your money and personal information. And at times losing your personal information can be more ruinous in the long term. Like any other phishing scheme, the dubious attempts at messaging are clever and appear to be extremely legitimate.
Protecting Your Identity Against Fraud This Tax Season
April 18 is the deadline to file your income tax return for 2022. that is unless you apply for an extension. The Internal Revenue Service has encouraged taxpayers to go in for electronic filing to bring down the chances of fraud and identity theft. Filing online also makes the whole process smoother.
The IRS has also advised taxpayers to file early this tax season. This will beat those who try to commit identity theft and steal your tax refund. The agency has said that most of the victims of tax season fraud are late filers who wait till the last moment before filing their returns. scammers are always on the lookout for such taxpayers.
The IRS accepts only one return against a Social Security number. So if a scammer steals your identity and files a false return to claim a refund, you will find your attempts to file your income tax return blocked. Identity thieves are always on the prowl, looking for filers who may have delayed filing their income tax returns.
Watching Out For Tax-Linked Phishing Attacks
Cyber scammers will bombard you with a stream of emails, calls, texts, and direct messages to lure you into clicking on a link or sharing your financial or personal information. Examples include scammers contacting you posing as IRS officials and demanding that you pay your income tax immediately or face arrest. The threat of arrest prompts many into revealing their personal information to these scammers.
Some of the phishing emails tell you that your income tax is overdue and prompt you to link to a website or open an attachment to immediately process your overdue payments.
Other messages insist that your W-2 and other personal information have to be verified and prompt you to send your driving license and other personal documents that they use to penetrate your file. It is important to remember that any message that has a veneer of urgency to it is in most cases a scam.
Understand How The IRS May Contact You This Tax Season
The tax authorities will not contact you by email, phone, text, or social media to tell you to part with your personal information. The only way that the tax authorities will use is to first contact you through email. And if you have doubts this tax season that any of the emails could be a scam, you can always call the IRS at 800-829-1040.
Report Attempts To Scam You The Moment You Recognize Signs Of Theft
The IRS has reported that tax refund fraud is directed at hundreds of thousands of taxpayers each year. if you made the mistake of clicking on a fraudulent link or sharing your financial and personal information, you should immediately notify the agency.
Contact the IRS at their website for identity theft and receive a customized recovery roadmap based on the information that you have shared with the scammers. Even if you have not lost any money in this tax season, you should tell the IRS as your personal information can be used months, and at times even years, later to relieve you of your money. So you need to immediately report to the IRS any suspicious message that you may have received.
Also, desist from using public Wi-Fi even if you feel that it is a reliable source. This is especially important if you are using it to process your income tax this tax season. Only rely on trusted networks.
Secure Your Personal Information This Tax Season
Take steps before the scammers get to you. Identity thieves are especially active this tax season, and filers need to be extra cautious and take preemptive measures to guard their personal information.
Taxpayers can secure their online and offline personal information. It is the safest way to stave off attacks by tax identity thieves. Always shred physical documents that contain personal information. Use multi-layered authentication and also incorporate strong passwords. These simple but effective measures should protect you from online scammers this tax season.
Some of the simple but effective measures to protect you from scammers include filing tax returns early this tax season so that scammers do not have the time to use your stolen information.
You should also apply for a PIN from the IRS for electronic filing to ensure an additional layer of security. Avoid using the same password across multiple applications and websites. Keep sensitive sites protected by a different password.
Do not share your personal information with companies and agencies until it is extremely necessary. You will only increase the chances of your identity being stolen. Also, avoid filing your income tax return in public.
Always directly post any sensitive letter instead of placing it in a home mailbox. Also, use anti-virus tools and firewalls to protect electronic devices. Also, use patches to keep your security layers up to date.
All victims of tax identity theft this tax season should complete Form 14039. The IRS Identity Theft Affidavit should be attached to the tax return this year. Filers should also scrutinize their credit reports at regular intervals. This will ensure that no fraudulent account has been opened with information stolen from you.
Other tax scams that you need to be on the lookout for this season include scammers posing as being from the Taxpayers Advocate Service, a division of the IRS that helps filers. The goal again is to relieve you of your personal information and scam you.
There are also fake tax preparers who scam you on the pretense of doing your taxes. They cheat you of your tax preparation fee and even take your tax refund. There are also debt relief scammers and companies that contact filers and offer to settle past taxes for a percentage. They ultimately charge exorbitant fees and also steal sensitive information.