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Tax Season Security Alert

By Randy Alderman

This is the time of year where consumers need to be aware of tax scams and understand that those tax scammers are already hard at work.

Here is a list of the most “current” Tax Scams, as they appear at IRS.gov……

IRS-Impersonation Telephone Scam
An aggressive and sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, has been making the rounds throughout the country. Callers claim to be employees of the IRS, but are not. These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling.

Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.

Victims may be told they have a refund due to try to trick them into sharing private information.
If the phone is not answered, the scammers often leave an “urgent” callback request.
Note that the IRS will never:

• Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill;
• Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe;
• Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card;
• Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone; or
• Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

Phishing Scam: "Update your IRS e-file" 
The IRS has been alerted to a new email phishing scam. The emails appear to be from the IRS and include a link to a bogus website intended to mirror the official IRS website. These emails contain the direction “you are to update your IRS e-file immediately.” The emails mention USA.gov and IRSgov (without a dot between "IRS" and "gov"), though notably, not IRS.gov (with a dot). Do not get scammed. These emails are not from the IRS.

Taxpayers who get these messages should not respond to the email or click on the links. Instead, they should forward the scam emails to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov. For more information, visit the IRS's Report Phishing web page.

The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information.

Identity Theft Scams

The IRS has issued several consumer warnings about the fraudulent use of the IRS name or logo by scamsters trying to gain access to consumers’ financial information in order to steal their identity and assets. Scamsters will use the regular mail, telephone, fax or email to set up their victims. When identity theft takes place over the Internet (email), it is called phishing.

The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through email. Unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS should be reported to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov.

Additionally, clicking on attachments to or links within an unsolicited email claiming to come from the IRS may download a malicious computer virus onto your computer.

You may also report instances of IRS-related phishing attempts and fraud to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.

This time of year is a boom for identity theft thieves, so take extra precautions.  Remember, anybody who calls or emails you and asks for financial information is trying to steal from you.  No legitimate organization will call or email you and request your financial information.

And remember, if you do your taxes yourself on your own computer, make sure your virus protection is up to date and your PC is free of any malicious bugs.

 

 

 

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