02 Feb Tax Season Scams on the Rise
Tax Season Scams on the Rise
Tax season brings with it an increasing number of scams designed to steal people’s money and identities. Thousands are victimized each year. The Internal Revenue Service has published an alert to try to help consumers avoid becoming the next victim.
“Scammers use the regular mail, telephone, or email to set up individuals, businesses, payroll and tax professionals,” the Internal Revenue reports. “The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information.”
If the IRS wants to communicate with you, chances are very good that they’ll send you a letter using the United States Postal Service. Here are a few things that IRS wants you to know they will not do:
- Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
- Demand that you pay taxes without the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe. You should also be advised of your rights as a taxpayer.
- Threaten to bring in local police, immigration officers or other law-enforcement to have you arrested for not paying. The IRS also cannot revoke your driver’s license, business licenses, or immigration status. Threats like these are common tactics scam artists use to trick victims into buying into their schemes.
This year, a sophisticated scam has been targeting taxpayers across the country – including recent immigrants. Your caller ID may indicate it’s the IRS calling but beware. While the voice on the other end of the phone will claim to be IRS employee and may even provide you with an IRS identification badge number, it’s a scam. Don’t let the fact that they have information about you fool you. Remember, the IRS will almost always initiate contact with you via the U.S. mail.
With this scam, “Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a gift card or wire transfer. Victims may be threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting. Victims may be told they have a refund due to try to trick them into sharing private information. If the phone isn’t answered, the scammers often leave an “urgent” callback request,” the IRS warns.
As a BI private investigator in Ft. Lauderdale can tell you, scammers are continually updating their approach. The IRS has published a Consumer Alert regarding the latest developments. Please See: Consumer Alert: Scammers Change Tactics, Once Again.
And CNBC reminds us that, “Social Security numbers were among the data exposed in the Equifax hack, which affects up to 143 million people. Immediate to-dos have focused on fraud alerts, credit freezes and monitoring to curtail thieves’ ability to open new accounts in victims’ names. But experts say consumers should also start thinking ahead to tax season — when criminals could potentially use those stolen Social Security numbers to file fraudulent tax returns and snare refunds.”
Eva Velasquez, CEO and president, Identity Theft Resource Center told CNBC, “Our motto is, file first and beat the crooks. It does have an impact. You are not giving them an open window.”
If you have been the victim of a scam, you are not alone. In this country, someone’s identity is stolen every two seconds. The state with the highest per capita rate of reported identity theft is Florida. Online scams and identity theft present law enforcement and prosecutors with unique challenges. If there is evidence to be found, you can count on the Florida private detectives with the BI Group to find it. With skilled private investigators from Boca Raton to Jacksonville, we offer a range of personal investigative services – including identity theft.
If you have been the victim of tax fraud or identity theft, call on the private investigators Florida trusts. Call on the BI Group.