Identity Theft: How to See the Trap



With tax season around the corner, tax thieves will be ramping up their attempts to steal the personal and tax information of taxpayers. Knowing how to spot their attempts is essential to staying safe from their scams. During this tax season, expect to receive fake emails, phone calls and/or text messages supposedly from the IRS or a legitimate agency attempting to steal your tax, personal and/or financial information.

Fake E-mails
   
Sending out thousands of fake emails to steal information is easy and is a widespread problem. Tax scammers pretend to be the IRS, a known bank or a reputable government organization to gain the trust of the receiver of the email. They copy the look and many times even the signature of an authority to seem legitimate. The only difference is that such fake emails either lead you to a fake webpage designed to get your tax information, or have attachments containing malware that steal information from your computer.
The IRS never sends unsolicited emails. If a financial institution has sent an email, it is best to call them or send them a message and not click on the links in the suspicious email.


Fake Phone Calls

Expect phone calls from the IRS, banks or financial institutions this tax season, but know that they are fake if they ask for your Social Security Number, filing status, birth date, and other information that you include in your return. They may also ask for financial information such as PIN and bank account numbers. Whichever way identity thieves use to contact you, they will be attempting to get hold of your personal, tax and/or financial information.

Text Messages

Text messages on the phone or on social networking sites is another way tax scammers attempt to get information, which they use to file fraudulent tax returns to claim huge refunds. Whatever the message says, the underlying intention will be to ask you to share your tax filing information. 

Tax scammers are most active before and during the tax season, but they can only harm you if you fall into their trap. After you have spotted a fake or a suspicious email or message, or received a suspicious phone call, report it to the IRS to help catch the scammers.   

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