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Identify These 5 Tax Scams

Tax season is well underway. People are worried about things like W2s, charitable contributions, and 1090s, but you should also be worried about tax scams. The IRS says tax scams have caused thousands of people to lose millions of dollars along with their personal information. Let Launch help you save your money and personal information with information on how to identify these 5 tax scams. Scammers use just about any type of communication channel to scam you including regular mail, telephone, and email.

1.SSN Scam

Social security card standing on its side | SSN Scam

Fraudsters call claiming they can cancel or suspend your SSN for unpaid bills. The IRS says if you receive this call you should hang up! Never give your personal information over the phone unless you’re sure the caller is legitimate. Fraudsters ask for immediate payment through prepaid debit cards, iTunes gift cards, and wire transfers which are all signs of fraud according to the IRS. Check out what the IRS says to do if you receive this type of call.

2. Email Scam

Black computer keyboard with blue button with envelope inscribed on it | Email Scam

First & foremost, the IRS will never send unsolicited emails and doesn’t email taxpayers about the status of their refund. These emails include subject lines like “Automatic Income Tax Reminder” or “Electronic Tax Return Reminder.” The email asks you to create a   “temporary password’ or “one-time password” so you can access files, but don’t do it because this is actually a malicious file. The emails look legitimate and takes you to a website that looks similar to the IRS’s actual site.

3. Phone Scam

Person holding a cell phone typing | Phone Scam

There’s a new twist on the ever popular phone scam. Fraudsters call claiming to be from the Taxpayer Advocacy Service and even go as far as “spoofing” their number so it appears to actually be from the advocacy group. Fraudsters are looking for your personal information including Social Security number, and individual taxpayer identification number.

4. “Ghost” Scam

a desk filled with papers, a calculator, pen, and laptop | Ghost Scam

Make sure you fully vet a tax preparer before using their services. First, ask for their Preparer Tax Identification. They must have this to sign the return. Ghost preparers don’t actual sign the return because they don’t want a paper trail. They request cash, invent income to qualify you for tax credits, and the direct refunds into their accounts instead of yours.

5. Tax Transcript Scam

A pile of papers || Tax Transcript Scam

Fraudsters use tax transcripts as bait to get people to open documents that actually contain malware. They disguise themselves as banks & financial institutions and will include subject lines such as “Tax Account Transcript” or “tax transcript.”

It can be tough to determine if the IRS is really contacting you. The IRS says the almost always contact taxpayers through regular mail delivered by the United States Postal Service. Below are special circumstances where the IRS will call or visit in-person. Even with these circumstances, they usually first send several notice “letters” in the mail.

Now you know how to identify these 5 tax scams so share the information with your friends. For more information on making this tax filing season a breeze, check out our tips on how to prepare for tax season.

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