April 17 is this year’s tax deadline. This means tax identity theft scams are underway. In 2017, the IRS received nearly 600,000 tax returns with confirmed identity theft, and 242,000 taxpayers reported to the IRS they were a victim of identity theft. Tax identity theft occurs when a scammer uses your Social Security number to file a tax return in your name and collect your refund. Better Business Bureau serving Central East Texas urges consumers to be vigilant when filing their taxes and to be aware of potential fraud regarding their taxes.
“In many cases, when someone files a tax return using your social security number, you won’t find out until the second return is filed,” said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB serving Central East Texas. “One way around that is to file as early as possible.”
BBB offers the following tips to help you avoid a tax scam this year:
Identify fake communications. The IRS always sends written communication first, so if you receive a call or email before an official letter, it’s probably a scammer. If you do receive unsolicited contact from the IRS, hang up and contact them directly at 1-800-829-1040.
Pay attention to official communication and know the signs. You could find out when trying to file a tax return – the IRS notifies you that another return using your Social Security Number has already been filed. If you receive written notice from the IRS about a duplicate return, respond promptly. You may also receive an IRS notice stating that you’ve received wages from somewhere you never worked or receive other notices that don’t actually apply to you. Another “red flag” is if you receive a notice that “you owe additional tax, refund offset or have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return.” Contact the IRS if you have any suspicions that a return has been filed in your name.
File early. The best way to avoid tax identity theft is to file your taxes as early as possible, before a scammer has the chance to use your information to file a fake return.
Don’t be pressured to act immediately. Scammers typically try to make you think something is scarce or a limited time offer. They want to push you into action before you have time to think or to discuss it with a family member, friend or financial advisor. High-pressure sales tactics are also used by legitimate businesses, but it’s never a good idea to make an important decision quickly.
Never share personally identifiable information. Never share personally identifiable information with someone who has contacted you unsolicited, whether it’s over the phone, by email, on social media or even at your front door. This includes banking and credit card information, your birthdate, Social Security number and insurance information.
What to do if you’re affected:
If you receive any “red flag” notices from the IRS, immediately respond by calling the number provided. If your return is rejected due to a duplicate filing, you’ll want to complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit. You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at identitytheft.gov to learn the next steps.
For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, please call BBB at 903-581-5704 or use BBB ScamTracker.
ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2017, people turned to BBB more than 160 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Central East Texas, which was founded in 1985 and serves 19 counties.
Source: on 2018-04-13 09:07:30
Read More At Source Site