It’s tax season and you know that means. More tax scams.
A neighbor recently reported that she received a phone call from someone stating she was from the Commonwealth of Virginia. The caller (let’s call her the scammer) said my neighbor was due a refund. However, the scammer needed a copy of her 2018 W2s to process the refund.
Thankfully, my neighbor recognized this as a scam and didn’t send the information.
When people fall for this scam, the scammers (let’s call them what they are – criminals) use it to file the person’s 2019 taxes and take the refund. The criminals get the money and the people that fall for the scam don’t realize it until they file their taxes. By that time, their money is long gone.
Protect your SSN throughout the year. Don’t give it out unless there’s a good reason and you’re sure who you’re giving it to.
File your tax return as early in the tax season as you can.
Use a secure internet connection if you file electronically, or mail your tax return directly from the post office.
Research a tax preparer thoroughly before you hand over personal information.
Check your credit report at least once a year for free at annualcreditreport.com. Make sure no one has opened a new account in your name.
Tax Scams from the “IRS”
Another neighbor reported receiving five calls in a single day from the “IRS.” The criminal used neighbor spoofing techniques to make the call look like it was coming from a local IRS office. Each of the calls threatened to arrest her if she didn’t call back immediately. She ignored the calls. No, she wasn’t arrested.
This scam is so common that the FTC created this infographic to describe it.
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Why do these tax scams (and other related scams) continue?
Because, they succeed. Criminals continue to steal money from unsuspecting, or uninformed, people.
As an IT professional knowledgeable about security, you may recognize these scams and how to avoid them. However, others in your sphere of influence may not.
Think about your parents, siblings, children, friends, co-workers, and neighbors.
Do they know that these scams are common? Do they know that they can avoid most by simply not answering calls from unknown callers? Do they know that they can often recognize a scam when it’s accompanied by a sense of urgency?
If not, feel free to share this article with them.
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