Tax scams are as old as taxes themselves, so are you doing everything you can do to avoid them? In this episode of Retirement Starts Today, we’ll explore what the IRS labels, ‘the dirty dozen’ tax scams. You’ll learn who is targeted by the various scams and then you’ll discover what you should do to protect yourself from scammers. Make sure to stick around until the end of this episode to hear what you should avoid doing so that you don’t fall prey to tax scammers.
Every year the IRS publishes its list of the 'dirty dozen’ tax scams that citizens should be on the lookout for. This year’s list comes directly from the IRS website in an article called Americans Urged to Watch Out for Tax Scams During the Pandemic. The article breaks up the 12 types of schemes into 4 categories based on who carries them out or whom they affect.
The scams can be described as pandemic-related scams, personal information cons, ruses that focus on unsuspecting victims like seniors and immigrants, and schemes that persuade taxpayers into performing unscrupulous actions. The IRS urges everyone to stay aware of scams and scammers, especially during tax season.
This first category of the dirty dozen is related to the pandemic-related stimulus payments from the government which are still under threat from identity thieves.
Look for these warning signs to spot identity theft scams. Any text messages, random incoming phone calls, or emails inquiring about bank account information or requesting recipients to click a link should be considered suspicious and deleted without opening. Remember that the IRS will never initiate contact with taxpayers by phone, email, text, or social media asking for a Social Security number or other personal or financial information related to economic impact payments.
Be alert to mailbox theft by checking your mail frequently and reporting suspected mail losses to the post office. It is also important to remember that IRS.gov is the agency’s official website for payments, refunds, or other tax information.
Stay vigilant about receiving receipts of unemployment benefits that you did not actually receive since this could be a sign of identity theft. This is yet another way that identity thieves try to steal stimulus payments. Taxpayers should look out for a form called 1099-G which reports unemployment compensation that they did not receive.
If you do receive this form, the IRS urges you to contact the appropriate state agency for a corrected form. If a corrected form cannot be obtained in time for taxpayers to file a timely tax return, they should complete their return claiming only the unemployment compensation and other income they actually received.
This year the IRS made its IP PIN program available to all taxpayers. In the past, this program was only available to victims of identity theft. The IP PIN will help prevent fraudulent filings from identity thieves by serving as a key to unlock a taxpayer’s tax account. In addition to the IP PIN, the IRS is further working to reduce fraud by strengthening tax software password protocols, asking for driver's license numbers as a way to prove identity, limiting the number of tax refunds going to bank accounts, and making personal information from tax transcripts.
It is important to stay one step ahead of scammers so that you can protect yourself from fraud. Remember that the IRS will never ask you for your personal information via phone, text, or email.
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