Protect yourself: IRS reveals top tax scams to avoid

Tax filing season is here. The IRS has identified some of the top tax scams that seem to increase this time of year. Know what’s out there so you can protect yourself when filing your taxes.

Phone and email scams

  • Phone scams: Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents are on the rise. Scam artists falsely threaten arrest, license revocation and other things to get you to send money.
  • Phishing: Ignore unsolicited emails claiming to be an official notice from the IRS. It could be an attempt to steal your personal information. The IRS will not call, email, send a bill or refund out of the blue.
  • Identity theft: The IRS continues to aggressively pursue criminals that file fake returns using stolen Social Security numbers. Be extremely careful when providing your personal information to people you don’t know.

Tax fraud

  • Tax preparer fraud: Some tax preparers set up shop every year so they can commit fraud. Most tax professionals provide honest high-quality service, but there are bad apples in the batch. When looking for a tax preparer, check out the IRS’ list of tax preparers first.
  • Inflated refund claims: Look out for anyone promising inflated refunds. Also, be wary of anyone who asks you to sign a blank return, promises a big refund before looking at your records, or charges fees based on a percentage of your anticipated refund. Scam artists use flyers, advertisements, phony store fronts and word of mouth via community groups, and churches seeking victims.
  • Fake charities: Be on guard against groups masquerading as charitable organizations to attract donations from unsuspecting contributors. Take a few extra minutes to ensure your hard-earned money goes to legitimate, and currently eligible, charities. IRS.gov has the tools you need to verify the status of charitable organizations.
  • Falsifying income to claim credits: Don’t invent income to gain tax credits. Someone may try to talk you into committing this type of tax fraud. You’re better off filing the most-accurate return possible.

The IRS has a full list of tax scams to help guard against criminals who try to take advantage of you and your money. Share these tips with others so they can be prepared, too.

Article provided by Local Government Federal Credit UnionThe advice provided is for informational purposes only. Contact a tax advisor for additional guidance.