There’s no shortage of frauds and scams out there, especially those designed to steal your payment information or passwords. Taxes are a prime target, with criminals well aware that the IRS collects information that could be used to steal your identity. With just a Social Security number and your contact information, a criminal could apply for a credit card on your behalf.
Realizing the dangers these threats pose, the IRS has taken measures to protect taxpayers, but there are still things you, the consumer, need to do to keep yourself safe from scammers. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Know How to the IRS Communicates
The IRS makes clear that it will not call, text, email, or use social media to communicate with taxpayers. If you get any correspondence from the IRS, it will come in the mail, on IRS letterhead. And even then, you should contact the IRS at 800-829-1040 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. if you have questions about the mailing you’ve received. There are rare instances where the IRS may call or show up at your home, but at that point you’ll have received multiple notices in the mail about the issue.
Be Careful How You File
With e-filing having overtaken paper-based filing, more taxpayers than ever are using online sites to submit their taxes. You probably have heard some of the most popular online tax preparation services, but scammers can easily set up a website, copying the design of the original site, and trick taxpayers into providing their information. If you do use an online service, make sure you go directly to the site itself rather than clicking on a link in an email.
Avoid Tax Resolution Fees
If you’re in hot water with the IRS, it can be tempting to consider those services that promise to resolve all your problems. Unfortunately, these services also often charge exorbitant fees. Many of the services they offer are things you can do yourself, such as setting up installments or making an Offer in Compromise. The IRS provides information on all of this on its website, but you can also ask your own tax preparer to explain your options and help you navigate the process.
Tax collectors don’t limit their scams to tax season, so be sure to be on alert year-round. If you do suspect someone has tried to scam you, report it to the IRS as soon as possible so they can keep an eye on your account and take measures to protect others.
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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.