Stay Sharp: Avoiding Tax Season Scams in 2024
January 16, 2024 | Written by Jerry Nicklow
Avoid Tax Season Scams in 2024
Hello Huff Insurance readers! As we find ourselves deep into the 2024 tax season, it’s crucial to stay alert to the various scams that can crop up during this time. You’ve worked hard for your money, and we want to make sure you keep it safe. Today, we’re diving into the most common Tax Season Scams of 2024 and how you can avoid them.
The Social Security Number Suspension Scam
First up, beware of the classic Social Security number (SSN) suspension scam. You might receive a call or email claiming your SSN is suspended due to suspicious activity. The truth is, your SSN is yours for life – it can’t be suspended or cancelled. If you encounter this, remember not to engage and definitely don’t click on any links in emails or texts that claim to be from the Social Security Administration
The Fake “Bureau of Tax Enforcement”
Next, let’s talk about a more creative approach – emails or calls from the so-called “Bureau of Tax Enforcement.” This agency doesn’t exist! Scammers use this tactic to inform victims of a supposed tax lien that requires immediate payment. Always double-check the legitimacy of any agency that contacts you and remember, the IRS contacts taxpayers by mail, not by email or phone
The “IRS Online” Tax Transcript Scam
Another scam to be aware of is the fraudulent tax transcript email. Scammers disguise themselves as “IRS online” and send emails with attachments claiming to be your tax transcript. Opening these attachments could infect your device with malware. Key tip: the IRS will never send unsolicited emails or sensitive documents via email
Ghost Tax Preparers
Be cautious of “ghost” tax preparers. These scammers pose as tax professionals and may promise large refunds, but they often misreport income and pocket the refund themselves. A big red flag is if they refuse to sign your tax return with their Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN)
Phishing Emails for Additional Tax Forms
If you receive an email requesting additional tax forms, be wary. The IRS doesn’t contact taxpayers by email for forms. Any email claiming to be from the IRS and demanding tax forms is almost certainly a scam
Overdue Payment Scams
This scam typically occurs after you’ve received a tax refund. A scammer, posing as an IRS agent, might contact you claiming that your refund was too high and that you need to return the extra money, often via wire transfer or gift cards. Remember, the IRS will notify you by mail if there’s an issue with your refund, not by phone or email
TurboTax and Other Software Scams
Hackers often target users of popular online tax preparation software like TurboTax. They might send a fake email urging you to sign into your account to resolve an issue, aiming to steal your login credentials. Always access your tax software directly through the official website, not through links in emails
Email Phishing Scams: Employers and HR Departments
Now, let’s discuss a particularly sneaky tactic that we see all of the time in our office. Email phishing scams where fraudsters pose as your employer or someone from the HR department. These scammers cunningly craft emails that seem to come from within your company. They typically request verification of personal information under the guise of updating or confirming details for W-2 or W-4 forms.
How It Works
You might receive an email that looks like it’s from your company’s HR department, asking you to confirm or update your personal information. The email may have a sense of urgency, insisting on immediate action to process your tax documents correctly. It might even include a link or attachment, urging you to submit your details through these channels.
The Red Flags for This Tax Season Scam
- Unexpected Email Requests: Be cautious of any unexpected email requests for personal information, even if they appear to come from within your company.
- Suspicious Email Addresses: Check the sender’s email address carefully. Scammers often use email addresses that are similar to, but not exactly the same as, legitimate company addresses.
- Links and Attachments: Avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from unsolicited emails. These could lead to phishing sites or contain malware.
- Urgency and Pressure: Scammers often create a sense of urgency. Any legitimate request from your employer for sensitive information typically comes with prior notification and doesn’t demand immediate action.
- Verify Independently: If you receive such an email, do not respond directly. Instead, contact your HR department through known, official channels to verify the request.
- Educate Yourself: Familiarize yourself with your company’s protocols for requesting personal information.
- Use Secure Channels: Always use secure, trusted methods to share sensitive information. Your employer should provide a secure method for submitting tax-related documents.
- Report Suspicious Activity: If you encounter a phishing attempt, report it to your IT department or cybersecurity team.
Identity Theft Insurance
Tax season is also a prime time for identity theft.
Scammers may file a tax return in your name using stolen SSN and other personal information. If you receive a letter from the IRS about a tax return you didn’t file or an account you didn’t create, it’s a sign of potential identity theft
In the age of digital transactions and online tax filing, safeguarding your personal information has never been more critical.
Identity theft insurance can provide you with much-needed peace of mind. Offering coverage for the cost of reclaiming your financial identity, such as legal fees, lost wages, and even certain out-of-pocket expenses. It acts as a safety net, ensuring that if your personal information is compromised during tax season—or any time of the year—you have the support you need to recover swiftly and securely. Don’t let the fear of identity theft loom over you; speak with your insurance provider about integrating this essential protection into your current policy.
Protecting Yourself From Tax Season Scams
Here are some quick tips to keep your information safe this tax season:
- Don’t trust unsolicited calls or emails claiming to be from the IRS or any tax agency.
- Never share personal information like your SSN or bank details over the phone or via email.
- Use reputable tax preparation services and always check their credentials.
- Regularly monitor your bank and credit accounts for unusual activity.
- Use strong, unique passwords for your online tax accounts.
Remember, staying informed and vigilant is your best defense against these tax season scams.
If you ever feel uncertain, don’t hesitate to reach out to professionals or directly contact the IRS through their official channels.
Tax Season Scams – Conclusion
While tax season can be a stressful time, being aware of these scams can help you navigate it safely. Protecting yourself from these devious schemes not only safeguards your finances but also gives you peace of mind. Stay sharp, and don’t let these scammers get the better of you!
At Huff Insurance, we’re always here to help you stay informed and protected. If you have any questions or need assistance, feel free to reach out. Let’s keep your tax season smooth and scam-free!
Remember, this blog post is for informational purposes only and is not intended as professional tax advice. For specific advice related to your unique circumstances, it’s always best to consult with a tax professional.