You may wonder how IRS scammers go about stealing your personal information. Well, your personal information is everywhere: on unencrypted hard drives; USB drives; in the cloud; social media; filed with your employer, financial institution. tax preparer, and even the IRS itself. Because income tax returns contain so much valuable personal information, they are a highly desirable target for hacking by identity thieves.
IRS Scammers Use Psychological Manipulation
Scammers take advantage of people’s fear of the IRS! They use is to pressure taxpayers into providing sensitive information by phone, email or postal mail. In addition, they can infect computers with malware that enables them to access people’s files, track keystrokes via links and attachments in emails, or by impersonating tax preparation companies. You can’t possibly prevent all types of tax-related fraud, but you can educate yourself about the latest tax scams so you are less likely to become a victim.
Many scammers are carrying out their schemes by phone. They convince callers that they are legitimate IRS employees by using false caller IDs, using false IRS employee badge numbers (or even real ones), and already being in possession of key information about their targets. The IRS refers to these scammers as “aggressive and sophisticated.”
These callers try to convince taxpayers to send immediate payment through a preloaded debit card, gift card or wire transfer. These methods prevent victims from getting their money back, even if they discover they’ve been scammed. Scammers may even ask their targets to hold up their credit cards to the camera in their phones or computer, in order to get their payment information. If the taxpayer doesn’t pay, these callers may threaten arrest, driver’s license suspension, business license suspension or, in the case of immigrant targets, deportation. Scammers may claim that you haven’t paid a nonexistent federal student tax, penalties related to the Affordable Care Act, or back taxes. These scammers are successful enough that they’ve managed to steal millions of dollars from unsuspecting taxpayers over the last few years.
Email scams are another major threat. Scammers will use the IRS logo or tax software company logo. These emails can look quite official, but don’t be fooled! The email may be about your expected refund, your filing status, missing personal information, or e-File PIN. Links in these emails direct you to websites that also look legitimate. By clicking on these links, you are giving the scammers access to all your personal information. These links may also contain malware that can give scammers access to your files or track your keystrokes without your knowledge. You may as well take out a billboard with your personal information on it! Be aware of these scams! Protect yourself and your information!
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Stephen Wallick started Stephen Wallick & Associates to provide tax and accounting services to Contractors, Real Estate Investors, and Realtors. Steve specializes in IRS Tax Resolution services and works with his clients to resolve cases under scrutiny by the IRS. As a tax professional and enrolled agent, Steve can save you money with IRS loopholes each year. With over 20 years going up against “The Man”, Steve is uniquely qualified to resolve even the toughest IRS cases.