While I am cramming my summer to-do list with fun biking destinations, tax scammers are making their summer to-do list with malicious schemes that try to get your personal data or money.
This summer, a tax-scammers evil to-do list may include the following:
- Pretend to be a co-worker or boss and send e-mails that request W-2 forms.
- Pretend to be the IRS and contact taxpayers requesting verification of bank account information to process their refunds.
- Pretend to be the IRS and contact taxpayers to demand immediate tax payments via wire, debit card or gift cards.
- Pretend to be the IRS and call college students and their parents demanding immediate payment of the “Federal Student Tax”. (This is a bogus tax; it doesn’t truly exist.)
- Pretend to be a CPA and e-mail or call their clients asking them to confirm personal data to prepare their return.
- Continue exercising cruel muscles to strengthen next summer’s evil to-do list.
Don’t worry, you may be able to dodge these scams by following these 2 crucial steps.
Step #1: Never share anyone’s personal data via e-mail, text or social media.
You can share this information through a portal. As CPA’s we recommend that you only provide your personal data through a portal and NOT through e-mail, even if it is an encrypted e-mail. You can also share this information verbally over the phone but only if you know who you are talking to and trust them with this information.
What exactly is personal data? If you wouldn’t write it on a post card, consider it personal. My definition is social security numbers, driver license numbers, bank account numbers, credit card or debit card numbers, security codes or passwords to financial accounts, medical information and health insurance information.
Step #2: Remember that these are the things that the IRS will never do.
The IRS will not…
- Initiate contact with you by e-mail, text or social media.
- Request personal or financial data verification over the phone.
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount.
- Threaten you with lawsuits, imprisonment, or deportation based on failure to pay immediately.
If you receive an e-mail that you suspect is from a tax scammer, do not open it (it may contain malicious software, aka malware). If you receive a phone call that you suspect is from a tax scammer, hang up immediately. Report these incidents to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at www.tigta.gov.