Why are tax scams on the rise?
According to the IRS, tax scams are up 400% compared to last year (2015). As of mid-February, the IRS has already had nearly 1,400 incidents.
There were a total of 2,748 all of last year. The scams are occurring via emails, phone calls, and text messages across the country.
The goal is by tricking taxpayers into thinking the communications are official, either from the IRS or officials from the tax industry.
The thieves are looking for information needed for tax filings, refunds, or pin information that allows them to file fake tax returns.
Emails are sent by these thieves directing people to supposedly “official” websites, or sites that contain malware, which infect computers and allow these fraudsters to access them.
Here are some examples of the subject lines used by tax thieves:
- Confirm your personal information
- Get my E-file pin
- Order a transcript
- Complete your tax return information
These thieves want to nab your refund before you have even had a chance to file.
Recently, hackers broke into the IRS database and tricked the system into releasing 100,000 pins under the name of taxpayers, allowing them to file fake refunds.
Here are some tips to protect yourself:
- Never respond to any email asking for personal information, even it seems urgent or threatening. If you ever receive an email from the IRS, call the IRS (800-829-1040) instead responding to the email.
- Don’t click on links in emails from people you don’t know. They could send you into a wormhole and cause havoc to your computer.
- Change your passwords yearly for your e-filing. Make sure to never do it on public wi-fi or any other unsecure network.
- Opt to get your refund wired into your bank account instead of receiving a check in the mail. You may have the check stolen in your mail before you get a chance to deposit it.
If you have received one of these scam emails, make sure to report it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you think your information has already been compromised, look into getting some identity theft protection for yourself, take a look at some options here.