March 4th, 2021 by admin
It's not uncommon to hear about tax scams. People become victims of tax fraud through workplace emails, online banking, tech support, and we can't forget a scammers favorite holiday – Tax season. According to the IRS, taxpayers have lost more than $23 million since 2013. Do you know how much you could buy with 23 million dollars?
In fact, these scams have been so widespread that since 2004, the IRS has been compiling a list of the most common scams to educate taxpayers. This list, called the 'Dirty Dozen,' highlights the 12 most widespread scams and how they work. But like all business, cybercriminals have found new techniques to scam taxpayers in the light of stimulus checks, tax relief, and other current issues. With tax season around the corner, it is essential to be informed and on high alert for some these common tactics.
Phishing is the use of fake emails or websites that are designed to steal personal information. Emails about tax bills, refunds, and economic impact payments may seem like they're from the IRS, but they're not. The IRS never contacts you via email. These days, phishing schemes use topic keywords like "COVID-19", "tax cut," and "stimulus" to grab your interest or bait you into clicking a link. Playing on the interest, fear, or curiosity of taxes and checks, these schemes intend to steal your personal and financial tax information, along with account numbers and passwords.
Cybercriminals exploit natural calamities or situations to scam well-intentioned people. Donating to charity is actually a way to receive tax cuts, which means if you give more money to charity, you pay less in taxes. Win-win, right? Scam artists will send phone calls, texts, social media messages, and emails while presenting themselves as legitimate charities or working on behalf of the IRS to help victims. They'll ask you to donate to help those in need, with full intention of keeping the money to themselves. (You can verify legitimate charities by asking for their Employer Identification Number). Always do your research before donating.
Scammers may impersonate the IRS and threaten a potential victim with arrest, deportation, or license revocation if they don't pay the tax bill. These calls are usually designed to scare, worry, or confuse you with instructions to return the call. You should know that the IRS never demands immediate payment, threatens, or asks for financial information over the phone.
Social media is the new wildcard in hacking, scamming, and fraud. Social media shares your information with anyone and everyone, which means scammers can use your own information against you. It's easy to become trustworthy and send a link through the social media app which contains malware. These scams lead to tax-related identity theft, and criminals will then use the victim's information for other scams.
While most taxpayers might be able to see through tax scams, senior citizens are most commonly targeted. Elderly people without extensive knowledge of social media or technology, in general, give scammers an advantage. For example, you are here reading this, but how about your parents? Or their parents? They have less current knowledge and are more susceptible to being cheated. However, older people are less likely to be victimized if the service provider knows that they are under the care of a family member.
How to Protect Yourself from Tax Scams?
There are many ways and precautions you can exercise to protect yourself from tax fraud. However, if you suspect that you've been scammed, you can report it to the Treasury Inspector General of the Tax Administration. There are some easy, precautionary steps you can take:
- Work with us at Equinox
- Keep your social security number protected
- Be aware of data breaches. (Call us and we can do this for you)
- If needed, freeze your credit
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