Tax Season Scams & Security for You and Your Business
As we are in the midst of tax season, it is important to be on high alert for tax scams and identity theft. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that the IRS does not contact tax-payers via email, text messages or social media to request personal or financial information. If you receive contact through any of these channels, ignore it, and report it to the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) and/or send it to email@example.com.
Scams Targeting Tax Preparers
If you own a business or are having your personal taxes prepared by an outside source, make sure you screen the company that you are working with. Even if they seem legitimate or you have worked with them before, you should ask for their Preparer Tax Identification Number to confirm their credibility. You can also ask what security plans they have in place to protect client data and their computer networks from identity thefts and scammers.
Ghost Tax Return Preparers
Believe it or not, tax scammers will present themselves as a tax preparer in order to gain access to your personal information. If your tax preparer does any of the following and you have already given them your tax information, notify the TITGA and the local police:
- Requires payment in cash only and does not provide a receipt
- Invents fake income to qualify you for tax credits or claims fake deductions to boost your refunds
- Directs refunds into their own bank account rather than yours and tell you that they will transfer them later
Tips & Tricks
Review Your Return
You should always review your tax return carefully before signing anything and ask questions if something seems fishy or is unclear. Scammers can manipulate questions and websites to get your signature, which is taken as your “approval” or “permission”. Once you have signed, it may be very difficult to reverse your agreement.
Verify Your Account Information
Ghost tax preparers or online scammers can change out the banking information associated with your return to their own before you submit your tax return. Double check to make sure your routing number and bank account number on the completed tax return are correct to ensure your return will be deposited into your account.
Check the “To” Address
Any correspondence with the IRS will address you by your first and/or last name. If you receive anything that addresses you as “sir”, “madam”, or “taxpayer”, report it to firstname.lastname@example.org as it is most likely scam.
Keep yourself and your business safe from identity thieves and scammers this tax season with these few simple tips and tricks. At AITP Charleston, we are always at the forefront of the latest in technology news. Follow AITP to stay informed and learn from industry experts. From monthly events with knowledgeable panelists to articles that are relevant to you, AITP Charleston is the place for IT professionals.