This tax season federal authorities are warning taxpayers of potential identity theft and tax refund scams that lead to your personal information being stolen. One such tax refund scam being reported is someone phoning the intended victim claiming to be a representative of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). During the call the thief informs the victim that they have qualified for a refund. The thief will then ask a series of questions in an attempt to gain access to credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and other sensitive personal information.
These tax refund scams are not just limited to phone calls, either. It has been reported that potential victims may receive e-mails from fraudulent entities claiming the same thing. In these cases it is highly recommended that you do not reveal any personal information. If you are unsure of whether or not it is a legitimate tax refund, you should call the IRS directly and speak with a representative.
Lourdes Souss of the IRS indicated that the IRS does not contact individuals or leave messages asking for personal information, also stating that:
“These kinds of scams are very clever and they’re getting better and better”
With that in mind, always be aware of the phone calls and e-mail that you receive. These communication methods have become popular amongst identity thieves.
Despite the IRS issuing several consumer warnings on the fraudulent use of the IRS name and logo, identity theft scams still occur. As we have mentioned, e-mail and phone calls may be used to trick unsuspecting victims into revealing personal and/or financial information, enabling the scammer to steal the victims’ identity. These victims are typically lured by the promise of a tax refund, causing them to reveal more than they should. The IRS has put together a helpful list of resources covering suspicious e-mails and identity theft.
If you receive phone calls or e-mails with suspicious behavior it is best to report it to the IRS immediately to help in shutting down these scams before they can victimize others. The IRS can use that information and relay it to authorities to help shut down fraudulent sites. Identity thieves will typically use your stolen information to gain access to your financial accounts, charge items to your credit cards, apply for loans, and even commit other crimes.
Unfortunately, victims of identity theft can spend years trying to clean up the mess that the thieves have made of their good name and credit record. This process can often involve a substantial amount of money as well.
This tax season you should be mindful of tax refund scams whether it’s in the form of a phone call, e-mail, FAX, or mail. Never release your social security number or any identifying information that may lead to fraud if you are not absolutely certain of who you are speaking with and why they need it.