When someone offers you something too good to be true, it probably is. Fortunately, the same is true of someone threatening you with things that seem unbelievable… at least in the cases of IRS scams. Here, you can learn about some of the most common scams, so you know when to get serious and when to just hang up the phone or close the email. Now might seem like an odd time to worry about IRS scams, but it’s actually the perfect time for people who may be filing late or had concerns about any of their past year returns.
Phishing Scams: Note that the IRS will never contact you through email to notify you of an issue with your tax return or refund. If you do get an email from someone claiming to be the IRS, don’t click on anything. Just close the email.
Phone Threats: One of the most common scams involves a phone call telling you that you are about to be arrested or deported. The scammer will ask for your personal information in order to “verify” your account. Think about this one for a minute. Have you ever had an easy time getting ahold of a human being when you call the IRS? No, and you never will. No one at the IRS has the time or will to call you and warn you about an arrest or deportation. Either hang up the phone or entertain yourself by asking THEM some bizarre questions for “verification” purposes.
Identity Theft: Tax returns provide a very real and easy way for people to commit identity theft. If someone has used your name to file a return, or claim you as a dependent when they shouldn’t, you may need to hire a lawyer. At the very least, you need to contact the IRS to see which steps to take through their office.
Fake Return Preparers: There are those who claim to be professional return preparers. Every professional tax preparer has a number given to them by the IRS. You can ask to see their credentials or the form letter providing them with this number. You can also go to an accountant or well-known tax preparation office.
Inflated Numbers: Some fake preparers will try to get you to sign a blank return so they can take your tax return. They might also offer tax shelters, excessive business credits, and suggest you modify your income to get a better return. Never sign a blank return or anything else with your personal information on it and never adjust your real numbers to modify the return results.
If the IRS has a problem with you or your return, you can expect to be notified by mail. Not only is this the more formal way to ensure that your personal information doesn’t get into the wrong hands; it’s the most affordable way as well. If you have questions about your return, a phone call, or an email, you can always call or visit your local IRS office.