Tax scams ranked at the top nationally in 2015 with more than 2,000 reports out of 10,000, according to the BBB Scam Tracker.
The Internal Revenue Service reports consumers lost more than $23 million over the past three years to impostors posing as federal agents tricking victims into making false tax payments.
The BBB reminds consumers to be wary of unsolicited phone calls, emails, or letters saying they’re from the Internal Revenue Service or any official-sounding government agency. The IRS won’t call to demand payment, ask for financial information over the phone, or require that taxes be paid by a certain method.
Watch for these following scams:
- Impostor scams: Scammers pose as IRS agents and make victims fearful by demanding money or threatening jail time. Fraudsters will manipulate phone numbers so that the call appears to be coming from the IRS or local law enforcement. There’s been some cases where cons obtain a victim’s personal information, which adds credibility adding to the demand for money.
- Tax relief scams: Watch for deceptive advertisements claiming to greatly reduce a person’s tax liability. Scammers will use official looking IRS notices or websites to persuade people to pay unnecessary money or give out private and personal information.
- Identity theft: Scammers use stolen personal information, Social Security numbers, and falsified W-2 information to file fraudulent tax returns in the victim’s name. In some cases, thieves stole W-2’s out of unsecured mailboxes.
This tax season, the BBB recommends consumers take the following precautions.
- E-file only from secure computers. Make sure anti-virus software is up-to-date. Never use public Wi-Fi to file tax returns.
- Don’t file taxes from a link in an email.
- Mail tax returns from the post office or a secure mailbox.
- Shred old tax returns. Income tax returns and worksheets should be kept for seven years from the filing date.
- Know your tax preparer. Use the bbb.org website to check which companies have complaints.