The Internal Revenue Service recently released the 2017 list of tax scams. Here is information on four of them:
· Identity theft: Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your stolen Social Security number (SSN) to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund. Taxpayers need to watch out for identity theft especially around tax time. The IRS continues to aggressively pursue the criminals that file fraudulent returns using someone else's Social Security number. Though the IRS is making progress on this front, taxpayers still need to be extremely careful and do everything they can to avoid being victimized. Here are a few tips:
o Don’t carry your Social Security card or any documents that include your SSN or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
o Don’t give a business your SSN or ITIN just because they ask. Give it only when required.
o Protect your financial information.
o Check your credit report every 12 months.
o Review your Social Security Administration statement annually.
o Secure personal information in your home.
o Protect your personal computers by using firewalls and anti-spam / virus software, updating security patches and make sure the security software is always on. Use strong passwords and change them periodically.
o Don't give personal information over the phone, through the mail or the internet unless you have initiated the contact or you are sure you know who you are dealing with.
· Phishing: Taxpayers need to be on guard against fake emails or websites looking to steal personal information. The IRS will never initiate contact with taxpayers via email about a bill or a refund. Don't click on one claiming to be from the IRS. Be wary of emails and websites that may be nothing more than scams to steal personal information.
· Phone scams: Phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain an ongoing threat to taxpayers. The IRS has seen a surge of these phone scams in recent years as scam artists threaten police arrest, deportation and license revocation among other things. The IRS reminds taxpayers to guard against all sorts of con games that arise during any filing season.
· Fake charities: Be on guard against groups masquerading as charitable organizations to attract donations from unsuspecting contributors. Be wary of charities with names that are similar to familiar or nationally known organizations. Contributors should take a few extra minutes to ensure their hard-earned money goes to legitimate and currently eligible charities. IRS.gov has the tools taxpayers need to check out the status of charitable organizations.