BBB Warns: Beware of Tax Scams

  
     
February 05, 2013

BBB is warning tax payers - don't fall victim to tax scams! Remember — if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. BBB takes a look at the different tax scams:

The scam: Phishing includes emails or websites that trick victims into providing personal information. If you get an email “from the IRS” asking for your personal information, delete it!

The scam: A tax payer receives a phone call from an individual from the IRS. The "IRS representative" tells the tax payer that a mistake was made on their taxes and that the IRS owes them $2000. Here's the catch: In order to receive the money, the consumer must provide bank account information. The IRS is not making these calls and would never request banking information over the phone to make a direct deposit.

The scam: A tax payer looks forward to getting a big tax refund but the check doesn't turn up. The tax payer calls the IRS who tells her they already paid out. Someone has used her Social Security number to grab the refund. In this case, the victim thinks her number was stolen by someone offering her a bogus job. In another variation, the IRS warns, your Social Security number is stolen and used by the scammer in a job. You get their tax bill! If your refund doesn't turn up, contact the IRS immediately. Be wary about giving your Social Security to anyone, even a prospective employer if you don't know them, until you start your job.

The scam: Users of the tax software TurboTax get an email that appears to come from the software company, asking them to download updates, to comply with IRS requirements. The link takes them to a bogus site where they're asked to download the updates. But the download is a virus that wrecks computer security. Alternatively, the phony site asks for personal information -- a phishing scam. TurboTax never solicits personal information by email and you can check for any required updates from within the program.

Around tax time, thousands of emails, faxes, and phone calls begin circulating, claiming to be from the IRS. Know that the official IRS website ends in “.gov.” Any IRS web address that does not begin with http://www.irs.gov should be forwarded to phishing@irs.gov. Also, if you believe your personal information has been stolen and used for tax purposes, you should immediately contact the IRS at 800-908-4490.

Something else to consider: While most tax return preparers are professionals who provide honest and excellent services to their clients, according to the IRS, some “make basic errors or engage in fraud and other illegal activities.” You can always Start with Trust by checking out a company’s track record at www.bbb.org.