Thursday, March 28, 2019

Thrifty Thinking: IRS Scams

Taxpayers saw many more phishing scams in 2018 as the IRS recorded a 60 percent increase in bogus email schemes that seek to steal money or tax data. These schemes can endanger a taxpayer’s financial and tax data, allowing identity thieves a chance to try stealing a tax refund.
What should taxpayers be on the lookout for this tax season?

Mike Savage is a CPA and the CEO of 1-800Accountant. Mike leads one of the country's largest virtual accounting firms, servicing over 200,000 small businesses and individuals. Mike has been featured in CNBC, Business Insider, Reuters, US News and World Report, USA Today, Bustle, and many others helping advise Americans on their tax needs. 

I had a chance to interview him to learn more.

1. What are the latest scams to watch out for?
  • Emails referred to as "phishing". There is a new twist where the fraudulent emails appear to come from a sender who pretends to be a professional association representative to a club you might belong to.
  • Phone calls from someone claiming to be from the IRS. 
  • Using your social security number to file a tax return and effectively steal your refund. This can occur when sophisticated hackers break into the e-file system, obtain information from extensions filed, and use that information to file a fraudulent return. People only find out after their returns get filed and they are informed they have already filed a return.
2. Why are the elderly vulnerable? They are thought to have substantial monies, so they are targeted. Scams include counterfeit prescription drugs, cemetery scams, and telemarketing. There is a resource where the elderly can report suspicious contacts called Adult Protective Services. The website is

3. How can people be sure communication is from the IRS? The IRS will not call to demand immediate payment. There would be a process that involves a sequence of letters that are sent over the course of time so you can contest any tax liability. Getting threatening phone calls is not part of the process.

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