Don’t be so quick to accept the help of strangers if they offer to make filing taxes less stressful. Tap or click here for more information on the tax prep software that was sending data back to Meta. Now, tax scams are making the rounds looking to rip you off.
Read on for ways to spot and outsmart tax scams.
Here’s the backstory
Tax scams come in many forms. A recent version saw thieves stealing personal information online and using it to file tax claims in the name of unsuspecting victims.
But they aren’t all that elaborate. Some come in the form of good old phishing attacks where the criminal sends malicious text messages or emails.
The communication can vary from claiming you are eligible for a refund or offering help to make filing taxes smoother. There is almost always a link in these malicious messages, and once you click on them, it takes you to a fake page.
“They claim that you are eligible for some kind of a rebate or a refund or some other tax benefit. If you open that text and click on the link, you may be opening yourself up to identity theft as well as a lot of other headaches, and certainly not a tax refund,” explains an AARP representative.
Skilled scammers will direct you to web pages that have been spoofed and look just like legit sites. They often use the same logo, branding or language as the authentic site. But these are pages created to capture your data.
How to handle tax scams
One way to stop tax scams in their tracks is to report them. You can report suspicious activity to the IRS. This can help authorities to stop scammers.
- If you receive an unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS, report it by sending it as an attachment to email@example.com.
- If you receive a phone call from the IRS and the caller is demanding payment or threatening to bring in the police, hang up and report the call to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) using its IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting form or by calling 800-366-4484. You can also report the call via an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Write “IRS Phone Scam” in the subject line.
- Report scam calls to the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov. Add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
- Report unsolicited text messages from the IRS to email@example.com. Include a screenshot of the message and the date and time you received it, along with the sender’s phone number.
- Go to the Report Phishing and Online Scams page at IRS.gov for more information.
Beyond reporting scams, there are some ways to stay protected. Here are some suggestions:
- Don’t click links or open attachments in unsolicited or suspicious emails claiming to be from the IRS or other tax agencies.
- Don’t call back or take any other action if you receive a voicemail or text message from a sender claiming to be from the IRS and demanding payment.
- Watch out for red flags such as spelling and grammar errors.
- Use two-factor authentication and password managers for better security.
- Always have a trusted antivirus program updated and running on all your devices. We recommend our sponsor, TotalAV. Right now, get an annual plan with TotalAV for only $19 at ProtectWithKim.com. That’s over 85% off the regular price!
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