Con artists have been taking advantage of tax season for years, filing fraudulent returns, stealing refunds, and accessing personal information for other nefarious purposes. But now, with our greater dependence upon digital tax filing systems, we all must be on guard even more than ever.
Take these steps to reduce your risk of falling prey to tax fraud or identity theft always, but especially during tax filing season:
- Request a one-use PIN from the IRS, by visiting irs.gov
- File your taxes early in the season to get ahead of any con artists that might target you
- Use a secure file transfer service when sending documents
- Don’t store tax-related data on your computer; move those files to an external drive and then delete from any device connected to the internet
- Erase old devices before discarding them
- Call senders before clicking any link or PDF file in an email, to be sure they sent it
- Use the password function on any PDF files transmitted digitally; ask your tax preparer to do this also
- Verify the identity of any person or agency who requests faxed documents
- Never give out pertinent tax info over the phone or email
Remember, the IRS does not call or email to request information. If there is a problem with your return, you will receive a letter in the mail. Anyone saying otherwise over a phone call or email is a scammer, and you should hang up the phone or delete the email.
Finally, be aware of the sneaky ways in which scammers can operate. Sometimes they will file a fraudulent return on your behalf, allow you to collect an undue refund, and then call you pretending to be the IRS and demanding a return of the funds. If you ever receive a refund that you were not expecting, call the IRS yourself right away.
If you have any other questions about your taxes, particularly relating to your long-term financial plan, please call our office to schedule an appointment.