Tax filing season is a source of stress for just about everyone. That extra stress and uncertainty ramps up and up, and you never know if you must write a check to the IRS.
You also do not know which threats will loom, and that lack of knowledge could put you at real risk. Tax scams have increased in recent years, but they tend to break down into four major categories. One of these tax scams can put you in real danger and can leave you on the hook with the IRS, owing thousands of dollars if you’re unlucky. Here are four tax scam dangers you should be aware of.
Important Note: If you’ve fallen victim to a tax scam and the IRS is claiming you owe $10,000 or more, contact our firm today for a consultation here.
#1. IRS Impersonators
When tax season begins, fake IRS agents come out of the woodwork. Those phony IRS impersonators may flood your email inbox with threatening messages and text your smartphone with incorrect information.
Those IRS impersonators may call you on your landline or smartphone, ratcheting up the threats and the danger. From threatening arrest if back taxes are not paid to using hard sell tactics to get you to pay up, those impersonators can take a big bite out of your wallet.
If you want to stay safe, know that the real IRS never initiates communication via email, text, or phone calls. If there is a problem with your taxes, the IRS will send a good old-fashioned letter, so watch your mailbox and ignore everything else.
#2. Phishing Scams
Phishing scams are always going on, but they really ramp up as tax season gets underway. Those cybercriminals know that tax season is a stressful time for their victims, and that they may put their guard down if confronted with a sufficiently scary subject line.
It's always a good idea to treat unsolicited emails with a healthy dose of skepticism, but that's even more true when tax season is on the horizon. You should always investigate such messages thoroughly -- and never click on embedded links that could harbor malware and other threats.
#3. Fraudulent Filing
If you do not file your taxes quickly, cybercriminals may do it for you. Fraudulent filing has increased, upping the risk that you could be the next victim.
These fraudulent filers use Social Security numbers and other personal information they buy on the dark web. Armed with that information, they file fraudulent tax returns, claiming refunds they are not entitled to and funneling them to their own accounts instead of yours. The best way to guard against this risk is to file your tax return as quickly as possible and protect your personal information online
#4. Shady Tax Preparers
Sometimes the people you pay to prepare your taxes are the source of the scam. Shady unlicensed tax preparers mine information from their clients, keeping lists of Social Security numbers and other key information to perpetrate future crimes.
If you trust your taxes to a preparer who is less than honest, identity theft may not be your only problem. Those shady tax preparers may also commit fraud, making up deductions, claiming phony dependents, and ultimately getting you a huge tax refund you do not really qualify for. When the IRS catches the mistake, the tax preparer will be long gone, leaving you on the hook for penalties, interests, and the kind of stress only an IRS audit can provide.
Filing taxes is stressful enough, but falling for a scam could make your interactions with the IRS even worse. Cybercriminals see tax filing season as a golden opportunity, one they are ready, willing, and eager to exploit for their nefarious purposes.
If you want to protect yourself and your money, you must take a proactive approach to cybersecurity. Knowing the dangers is a vital first step, so keep a close watch on your information at all times.
If you're facing tax troubles, reach out to our tax resolution firm, and we'll schedule a free and confidential consultation to explain your options thoroughly and help you permanently resolve your tax problem here.