Beware of tax season scams
Additionally, taxpayers should take steps to protect against identity theft by properly securing or destroying documents that contain identifiable information such as names, Social Security numbers, addresses, or places of employment.
Each year, the IRS compiles its ‘Dirty Dozen’ list which includes a variety of common scams taxpayers can encounter at any point during the year, but which tend to peak during tax filing season. Some of the most prevalent scams from the IRS’ 2014 Dirty Dozen scam list include:
- Return Preparer Fraud – Most preparers provide honest service to their clients. But others prey on unsuspecting taxpayers. It is important to choose carefully when hiring an individual or firm to prepare your return. For tips about choosing a preparer and other helpful information, click on this link: IRS Fact Sheet 2014-5.
- Identity Theft – Identity theft tops this year’s list. Identity thieves will try to obtain your name, Social Security number or other identifying information, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. Scammers can use a legitimate taxpayer’s identity to fraudulently file a tax return and claim a refund.
- Telephone Scams – Local phone scams have increased. Callers pretend to be from the IRS in hopes of stealing money or identities from victims. There are many variations to these scams. Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security Number or “spoof” or imitate the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that the IRS is calling.
- Phishing – Phishing typically occurs through an unsolicited email or fake website that poses as a legitimate site to lure potential victims into providing valuable personal and financial information which the scammer can use to commit identity theft or financial theft. The IRS DOES NOT initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information.
The IRS reminds taxpayers that tax scams can take many forms and people should be on the lookout for many other types of scams. For help from the IRS with specific problems, they provide this contact list for more information and assistance:
- Abusive or fraudulent tax preparers: Abusive tax preparers may be reported on IRS Form 14157. Download Form 14157 here: Report Suspected Tax Fraud to IRS.
- Identity Theft concerns: Contact the IRS’ Identity Protection Specialized Unit immediately at 800-908-4490. You may also contact the Virginia Attorney General’s Victim Notification Unit for help with an identity theft issue by e-mailing us at: [email protected]. Our Office is dedicated to assisting all Virginians in avoiding identity crime and providing them with the information necessary to help them in being proactive should they become a victim of identity theft. We have published a booklet available by clicking this link: “How To Avoid Identity Theft – A Guide for Victims of Identity Theft.”
- You do not owe taxes but got a call or bill saying you do: Call the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.
- You received an unsolicited email that you suspect is a phishing attempt: The IRS has helpful information online: IRS Phishing Information. You may report a phishing e-mail by sending it to [email protected].
- You got a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS: If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 800-829-1040 for help with a payment issue.
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section helps educate Virginians about fraud and investigates and acts on consumer complaints regarding things like telemarketers, phone scams and deceptive business practices. You may contact our office to get more information on a company or to file a complaint. Visit our website: www.ag.virginia.gov or call 1-800-552-9963 in Virginia or (804) 786-2042 if calling from the Richmond area.