It’s another new year, which means tax season is fast approaching and rapid changes in banking technology make managing your refund safer and easier than ever. If you are getting a tax refund this year, remember to take steps to keep your refund safe. Here are a few tips to ensure that you protect your money from tax scams.
1. Never provide personal information.
If your personally identifiable information (PII), such as your name, address, and Social Security Number, has been stolen, the information can be used to open credit cards and loans or file a fraudulent tax return in your name, allowing the thief to claim your refund. If you suspect that your information was stolen, contact the IRS by calling 800-908-4490 or visiting the IRS website for identity protection at: irs.gov/identity-theft-central.
2. Be wary of phone calls and emails from anyone claiming to be from the IRS.
Identity thieves have been known to pose as IRS agents, providing a fake name and IRS badge number and even creating a fake phone number that appears on caller ID as coming from the IRS. These thieves often threaten people with audits, deportation, and other legal action or promise checks for unclaimed funds.
3. The IRS typically does not initiate emails to individuals asking for personal information.
Before acting on any phone call or email purportedly from the IRS, call the agency at 800-829-1040. An agent will be able to verify whether the IRS is in fact trying to get in touch with you. If you are certain the contact was part of a scam, report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration by calling 800-366-4484. You can also report unsolicited emails by forwarding it to phishing@IRS.gov.
4. Some people use tax preparers to assist them with preparing their tax return.
While most tax preparers are recognized professionals who can be very helpful, some preparers are scammers. Be wary of tax preparers who advertise with fliers or posters promising large refunds or special inside knowledge of little known tax credits and rebates or those volunteering to come to your home to prepare your taxes. These scammers make money stealing your personal information for later use and collecting fees. If you aren’t sure, ask for the tax preparer’s PTIN, which is the IRS tax preparer identification number that all legitimate preparers must have. Also, ask the preparer for references.
For more information on protecting your tax refund, visit: irs.gov/newsroom/tax-scams-consumer-alerts.
Whichever refund method you choose, you can track the status of your federal tax return from the time the IRS received it by visiting: https://sa.www4.irs.gov/irfof/lang/en/irfofgetstatus.jsp and filling out the appropriate information, or by downloading the mobile app “IRS2GO” at: irs.gov/newsroom/irs2goapp.
For more information on tax refunds, visit: irs.gov/refunds.