Tax season can be stressful: between the various layers of filing, it’s easy to get lost in the complicated jargon, numerous forms and tons of deductions. What’s worse, however, is that scam artists know that taxes are sometimes confusing and exploit it for their own benefit. There are several types of tax fraud and the IRS released a “dirty dozen” of most frequent tax scams for 2012. We’ve compiled below 3 of these types, what they are and how to avoid becoming a victim.
Identity Theft Refund Fraud – This type of fraud happens when a scammer uses your legitimate identity and personal information to file and claim your tax return before you do, thus stealing your hard-earned money. This is the most common type of tax fraud, and it really hinges on being safe with your personal information. Avoid keeping important documents like social security cards and the like in easy to access places (like a purse or wallet) and be very careful when sharing personal information online. If you are the victim of this type of fraud, you’ll likely receive a notice from the IRS letting you know that more than one claim has been filed for your identity. If you believe you’re a victim of this type of fraud, immediately contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit.
Phishing – No matter how legitimate an email or text may seem, the IRS will never contact you in this way requesting personal information. Even if there were problems with your tax filing, the IRS does not contact through electronic communication channels, like social media, text messages or email. If you receive an unsolicited email or message from someone claiming to be the IRS, be sure to report this information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
False Form 1099 Refund Claims – This one can be deceiving if you don’t know the facts. Some scammers encourage individuals to make false refund claims because of an untrue theory that the federal government maintains secret accounts for U.S. citizens. According to the criminal, a citizen only has to file claims using the 1099-OID forms to gain access to these secret accounts. Never supply others with your personal information so they can file a claim such as this – if you are party to a scheme like this, you could be liable for financial penalties or even face prosecution.
Be sure to check out the other common fraud types and be sure to be careful when filing your taxes.
Have you ever been a victim to tax fraud before? Share your experiences in the comments below!
If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out “Staying Safe: Protecting Yourself from Smishing.”