Posted On March 19, 2014

IRS warns taxpayers to avoid tax scams during the filing season

There is less than a month left to file one’s personal tax returns. One of the issues widely reported by the IRS both in Nevada and nationwide is the danger of being defrauded by criminals who would take one’s tax refunds. Part of the issue was discussed in a prior blog, but it’s important enough to have a reminder of the pitfalls. The message can be even more pressing for some older taxpayers who may find themselves more alone and isolated than they were in prior years.

With the increase in filings by home computer, newer scams are emerging. One to look out for is the email that says it is from the IRS. According to the agency, it does not initiate communications with taxpayers by email. Any such representation is an attempt to get your information and file a fake return in your name. To the extent possible, block that sender from any further communications.

The biggest bit of advice from the IRS is to not give out one’s Social Security number. That would be a ticket for a criminal to file a false return under the victim’s name. Besides the fact that some hapless victims have actually been held to owe the IRS money as a result of the scams, the biggest danger is losing one’s own refund in a sea of paperwork and investigations that may extend into the next decade.

Furthermore, beware of unlicensed firms or individuals who try to huckster business on the Internet. Only a certified public accountant or a licensed law firm should be used to assist with any tax problems that require resolution. There’s another danger that may be almost as damaging as the outright scam. That’s the incompetent, unlicensed tax preparer who is operating from the hip.

Residents of Nevada and elsewhere will do well to be cautious and heed the warning of the IRS. Additionally, keep in mind that it doesn’t really help to broadcast highly personal information on social media. That can be fertile ground for scam artists. So the bottom line is to go slow, stop, look, listen, and above all, never give out your Social Security Number or other vital personal information.

Source:  Education is key to keep from being victim to tax fraud, Kimberly Sutton, March 16, 2014