TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As the 2019 tax season approaches, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis warns of an increased threat of fraud and scams when filing your taxes.
“Scam artists are constantly looking for new and creative ways to steal your money. It is important to stay on guard, especially during tax season, to protect yourself and your business. Make sure you know the warning signs of scams and always remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” Patronis said in a new release Friday.
Recent reports show Florida leads the country in fraud and ranks second in identity theft.
Patronis’ office offered these six tips to protect yourself:
1. File your tax return early. This decreases the amount of time an identity thief has to steal your identity and file a return in your name.
2. Beware of impersonations. Scams take many shapes and forms, such as phone calls, letters and emails. Many IRS impersonators use threats to intimidate and bully people into paying a fabricated tax bill. They may even threaten to arrest their would-be victim if the victim doesn’t comply.
3. Be cautious of suspicious phone calls or emails. The IRS will never call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer.
4. Watch out for bogus charities. Scam artists impersonate charities to get money or private information from well-intentioned taxpayers. Bogus websites use names similar to legitimate charities to trick people into sending money or providing personal financial information.
5. File a report with the IRS and police. If you become a victim, file a 14039 form with the IRS and also file an identity theft report with your local police department.
6. Consider a free credit report freeze. By freezing your credit, you can prevent any new accounts from being opened in your name without your authorization. Last year, one of Patronis’ top priorities was removing the credit report freeze fee imposed on Floridians.
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