Tax season is here, and tax scammers are out there busily tricking taxpayers into revealing their personal information or extracting money from them through fraudulent means. Most often, IRS impostors claim that you owe money and threaten lawsuits or arrest if you don’t pay immediately by credit card, wiring the money, or sending a prepaid debit card or gift card.
It pays to be vigilant and aware of these scams and know how to determine whether you are dealing with fraud, or you may wind up losing enough to be unable to pay the legitimate taxes you do owe.
The skilled and seasoned Ohio debt-relief attorneys at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer understand that financial problems can happen to anyone. We offer a free consultation to evaluate your financial situation with the IRS, the State of Ohio, and whatever additional debt problems you are facing, and come up with a debt-relief plan that’s best for you. Call one of our conveniently located office branches at 614-228-4435 (Columbus), 937-222-7472 (Dayton), or 877-654-5297 (Cincinnati) or email today to set up your free consultation.
What are Common Tax Scams?
Fraudulent Emails or Calls
Most commonly, the scammer calls or sends an e-mail claiming to be from the IRS. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers and ask for your bank account information to deposit a refund so they can get access to your personal information.
You may also be told you owe money to the IRS which must be paid promptly through a gift card or wire transfer. Callers can get hostile and threaten arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license.
You should know these contacts are fraud even if the caller ID seems to come from Washington, D.C., the U.S. Treasury or your state or local department of revenue. This is because the IRS doesn’t initiate contact by phone or e-mail. If unsure whether the IRS is contacting you, check at How to Know It’s Really the IRS Calling or Knocking on Your Door.
If you really owe money, the IRS will first send a notice in the mail and give you a chance to question or appeal the amount.
Scam artists send e-mails that look like official IRS correspondence asking for your bank account information to directly deposit your refund. There may be a link to a website that looks legitimate but is used to gather your information or steal money or identity.
Phishing schemes may seek information related to refunds, filing status, confirming personal information, ordering transcripts and verifying PIN information. Some taxpayers receive emails claiming to be from the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP) about a tax refund, also in an attempt to trick you into providing personal and financial information. Other phishing e-mails pretend to be from your tax professional or software company and ask for information about refunds and personal information or request that you update your IRS e-file information immediately.
Sites may ask for information used to file false tax returns or may carry malware, which can infect computers and allow access to your files or track your keystrokes to gain information.
Be aware that the IRS will not send an e-mail asking for personal or financial information. Do not click on any links or send information but call the IRS or your tax preparer to check. Report phishing scams at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fraudulent Tax Return
ID thieves who know your Social Security number and other personal information file a fraudulent tax return in your name to collect your refund. To prevent this, file your return as soon as possible if you’re owed a refund, before the thieves do.
Video relay services(VRS)
Services may be used to try to scam those who are deaf and hard of hearing. Do not trust calls just because they are made through VRS, as interpreters don’t screen calls. Always contact the IRS to validate.
“Federal Student Tax”
These scams target students and parents, demanding payment for a bogus student tax. Be aware there is no such tax.
Return Preparer Fraud
Dishonest tax preparers set up shop to perpetrate refund fraud, identity theft and other scams, often with outlandish promises of overly large refunds. They may steal from their clients or mislead them into taking credits or deductions they aren’t entitled to in order to increase fees.
Choose carefully when hiring someone to prepare a tax return. Ask if the preparer has an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) and professional credentials.
Contact Us for Help
People are even more susceptible to tax scams this year because of confusion about the new tax law. If you have had any problems with tax schemes or the IRS, or if tax woes are adding to an already difficult financial burden, it may pay to consult with a lawyer who knows about scams and the intricacies of tax laws.
The skilled and seasoned Ohio bankruptcy attorneys at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer understand that financial problems can happen to anyone. We offer a free consultation to evaluate your financial situation with the IRS, the State of Ohio, and any tax or debt problems you are facing, and come up with a debt-relief plan that’s best for you.
Delaying can only make your situation worse, so call one of our conveniently located office branches at 614-228-4435 (Columbus), 937-222-7472 (Dayton), or 877-654-5297 (Cincinnati) or email today to set up your free consultation.