Arizona ranks #19 in the nation for identity theft, down from #10 just a couple of years ago. Better public education and personal awareness have been key, but we all must remain vigilant. The tax season upon us, and scammers are out in force. With the filing deadline extended to July 15, they have more time to trick you into divulging personal information in order to get your money. Here are some trending scams to be aware of:
Scammers may call and claim to be from the IRS, demanding an immediate tax payment. The caller ID may appear to be legitimate and they often will ask for a transfer of funds by gift card or wire transfer. THIS IS A SCAM. The IRS will never call you or show up at your house to demand an immediate payment, and no legitimate creditor will ever ask for payment by gift card or wire transfer.
Another common tactic used by unscrupulous scammers is a refund bait-and-switch. You receive an unexpected tax refund. What you didn’t know is that scammers filed a fraudulent return using your personal information that they had already stolen from you. Once the funds hit your bank account, the scammers, impersonating someone from the IRS or a collection agent, will contact you to demand the return of the money. If you get a refund you didn’t expect, don’t deposit it and don’t spend it…report it!
Phishing scams have been around for years and are getting more sophisticated and harder for even the most cautious person to identify. Keep in mind, if the IRS needs something from you, you’ll receive an official letter in the mail. The IRS will NEVER email, call or text without your permission first. If you need to contact the IRS, use only official IRS websites and phone numbers.
As always, it’s important to keep your personal information secure.
- At home, lock your sensitive and financial records in a safe place; make sure your information is secure from visitors or workers who come into your home.
- Shred documents no longer in use that include personal information such as your full name, address, phone number, social security number, bank information, travel plans, etc.
- NEVER give out personal information over the phone, or by email and social media, especially when unsolicited.
- To report a tax-related scam phone call with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration call 1-800-366-4484, or visit tigta.gov
- You can also call the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP or visit ftc.gov/complaint
- If you receive an email claiming to be sent by the IRS, forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org
- If you suspect you’re a victim of identity theft, file a complaint with the FTC and request that the major credit bureaus put a "fraud alert" on your record. You can also alert the IRS at 1-800-908-4490.