Each year, the IRS releases a list of its “Dirty Dozen” tax scams to alert taxpayers of the most common scams they may encounter. While they can occur at any time during the year, they peak during filing season as people prepare their tax returns. Sandy Furuya, Senior Accounting Manager with Wamhoff Financial Planning & Accounting, outlines the top two scams:
1. Identify Theft
- Tops this year’s Dirty Dozen list
- Identity theft can mean that someone is using your identity to commit fraud or other crimes; or, it could involve the use of your identity to file a tax return and claim a refund.
- Combating ID theft has become a top priority for the IRS. For the 2013 tax season, they have implemented a number of additional steps to prevent identity theft, and detect refund fraud before it occurs.
2. What to do if you fear your identity may be compromised
- Contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit immediately at 800-908-4490 so the agency can take action to secure your tax account.
- Tips for taxpayers, an assistance guide, and instructions on how to contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit can be found on the IRS website at http://www.irs.gov/uac/Identity-Protection.
- For other taxpayers, the site also includes tips on how to protect against identity theft.
- If you feel you’ve become a victim outside the tax system, visit the special identity protection page at http://www.irs.gov/uac/Have-you-become-the-victim-of-identity-theft-outside-the-tax-administration-system%3F
- Phishing is typically carried out via unsolicited email, or a fake website posing as a legitimate site.
- The goal of phishing is to get potential victims to provide personal and financial information.
- Once the information is provided, the criminal now has the taxpayer’s identity and can commit any number of fraudulent acts while posing as that taxpayer.
- It’s been reporting that phishing scams cost hundreds of millions of dollars each year.
4. What to do if you are unsure of an email you’re received, or believe you’ve been a victim of phishing
- Avoid being a victim. The IRS does NOT initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information.
- No government agencies, including EFTPS (Electronic Federal Tax Payment System) will request information via email.
- Do not respond to emails, text messages, or social media messages from the IRS.
- If you do receive a phishing email, report it by sending it to firstname.lastname@example.org