Protect yourself: Top tax scams to avoid

It could be a phone call, an email or someone in person promising to help you file a tax return where you’ll get extra refund money or even tax breaks you’re not eligible for. No matter their method, these are tax scammers. Protect yourself against thieves by knowing what scams are out there.

Tax fraud
According to the IRS, some fake tax preparers set up phony storefronts every year solely to commit fraud. Most tax professionals provide honest, high-quality service, but there are bad apples in the tax preparation field. When looking for a tax preparer, check out the IRS’ database of approved tax preparers first.

Similarly, look out for anyone promising inflated refunds or who asks you to sign a blank return. Be wary of anyone promising a big refund before looking at your documents or who charges fees based on a percentage of your anticipated refund. Someone may also try to talk you into inventing income to gain tax credits; this is tax fraud.

Scam artists may use flyers, advertisements and word-of-mouth promotions via community groups and churches to lure victims. Again, only work with authorized tax preparers or file your own return.

Phone and email scams
Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents are an ongoing threat to the public. Scam artists falsely threaten arrest, license revocation and other things to get you to send money to repay an overdue tax bill the thieves claim you owe. Hang up!

The same goes for unsolicited emails claiming to be an official notice from the IRS. Don’t provide your personal information or Social Security number to people you don’t know. Delete the message immediately. Any unsolicited communication by phone or email is likely an attempt to steal your personal information. The IRS will not call, email, send a bill or issue a refund you’re not eligible for out of the blue.

The IRS has a list of tips to help you guard against tax thieves 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 Union. The advice provided is for informational purposes only. Contact a tax advisor for additional guidance.