It’s that time of year again–tax season is here. It’s time to get your taxes done so you can get your refund–or settle up with the IRS if you owe taxes this year. Everyone knows that dealing with taxes can be both confusing and frustrating, and, if you’re not careful, you can land yourself in hot water at the hands of pesky scammers who prey on people’s lack of knowledge regarding taxes.
To help you avoid those infuriating scams, we’ve got a few tips for you this tax season. Here are the best ways to avoid tax schemes.
If you get a scary-looking email or ominous phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, take it with a grain of salt this time of year. The IRS typically reaches out to people through the US mail, and it sends official correspondence on unmistakable letterhead. The IRS isn’t going to send you a spam text about your taxes and threaten you with legal action over email.
Scammers like to ratchet up the pressure on their victims by making them feel like there’s no time left for them to respond to an official request. Take a deep breath and relax–the IRS moves at a glacial pace. They’re not going to call you and rush you over the phone to get your credentials.
If you’re expecting a tax refund, make sure you don’t let your tax information get into the wrong hands. If someone else gets your W2 paperwork they can file a fraudulent tax return in your name. Often, you won’t even know this happened until you go to file your tax return and the IRS tells you that one has already been submitted.
Scammers often try to steal your tax credentials by using phishing sites. Be careful if you plan to file your taxes online–make sure you’re using a trusted tax preparation service before you input sensitive information like your wages, Social Security number, and other identifying information.
Another way for a scammer to steal your information is to pose as a tax preparer. These “ghost” preparers usually use fake names and reach out to people online. Make sure you vet anyone you plan to hire to prepare your taxes and ask to see their Preparer Tax Identification Number. Once you have their PTIN, look them up on the BBB’s website to verify that they’re the real deal!