IRS Cautions Taxpayers Against Top Scams
March 8th, 2016 by Justin Sadler
Every year on April 15 – well, this year it’s April 18 – we look forward to the only thing that’s as certain as death, and that is filing our taxes (you know the saying). Well, unfortunately, every year there are some undesirables that try to prey on unsuspecting taxpayers. Each year, the IRS releases their list of the “Dirty Dozen,” which are the Top 12 scams perpetrated on taxpayers. This year’s full list can be seen HERE. These are a few of the most common from that list, and some helpful tips on how you can avoid falling victim to one of these hoaxes.
It’s bad enough when we get an annoying sales call, but imagine someone who is phishing for information. These individuals attempt to pose as a legit IRS agent, acting aggressively in an effort to intimidate taxpayers. Some of the most common threats from these scam artists include police arrest, deportation, and license revocation, but there are certainly others that they might try. Believe it or not, the IRS’s primary mode of communication is still through the mail, so it’s unlikely that their first means of contact will be through a phone call. If they really want to get your attention they will send several certified letters before attempting to contact you by other means. If you are contacted by someone claiming to be an IRS agent, ask for their contact information, and tell them that you will have your CPA contact them to resolve the issue. If you do a quick Google search for theirs or the IRS’s phone number, it will likely reveal this as a scam. Never give personal information or bank information over the phone.
As you might imagine, these perpetrators have no limits on how they will try to take advantage of honest, tax-paying citizens; they have no issue posing as a charity in an attempt to get your money. A few extra minutes will help ensure your hard-earned money goes to legitimate and currently eligible charities. IRS.gov is a great resource taxpayers can utilize to check out the status and credibility of charitable organizations. Be wary of charities with names that are similar to familiar or nationally recognized organizations. The law allows the IRS to deny a charitable donation if they determine that the charity is illegitimate, even if the taxpayer was unaware.
This continues to be a problem no matter the time of year, but it becomes especially common during tax season. The IRS continues to actively pursue criminals that file fraudulent returns using someone else’s Social Security number, but it still takes an average of 6 months to resolve a single case. The IRS is making progress on this front but taxpayers still need to be extremely careful and do everything they can to avoid becoming a victim, and avoid dealing with the headaches brought on by identity theft for potentially half the year. Currently, the IRS has a pilot program where they are assigning additional PIN numbers to taxpayers which are required to file a return, but currently, this is only an option in select states and to taxpayers who have already been a victim of identity theft. In the meantime, for everyone else, experts recommend that you protect your financial information by never giving personal information over the phone or through email and checking your credit report annually.
As mentioned, these are just a few of the most common scams from the full “Dirty Dozen.” You’ve worked hard to get that tax return, so it’s important for individuals to always be mindful of where they are submitting their information, no matter the time of year. However, as the final day to file taxes gets nearer, the more common these scam attempts will become. If you suspect someone is trying to steal your information, the IRS Tax Fraud Hotline can be found here, as well as other helpful information. By heeding these cautions and using available resources, most Americans should be able to safeguard themselves against these wrongdoings. Learn more about how Sadler can help with your company’s taxes and other accounting needs.