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Con Artists Love Springtime – Protect Yourself!

Posted by David Ghiorso, CPA, March 2, 2017

The flowers are blooming, the birds are singing, con artists are raiding your bank account… wait a minute. That doesn’t sound right!

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what often happens in the spring. Con artists can pop up to drain your bank account and disrupt your life at any time of year, but they really love springtime. Why? Because it’s tax season and they prey on your fear of the IRS!

Each spring, millions of taxpayers are delighted to receive a refund from the IRS. In other cases, a refund is not due, but people are just hoping they file their returns correctly and avoid a troublesome audit. Either way, scammers know they can prey upon your good fortune, or anxieties, and get away with your hard earned cash.

The IRS will never call you. The most important thing to remember is that the IRS will never call you. Scammers often use our fear of an audit to their advantage. They might call, claiming to be an IRS representative, and inform you that there is a problem with your tax return. They might threaten you with an audit, jail time, or even deportation!

Then, they inform you that if you just pay over the phone today, this whole mess can go away. It’s tempting to pull out your credit card… But this is a trap! The IRS will never call you on the phone. Even if your caller ID says something like “US Government” or “Washington DC”, you can bet that you’re talking to a con artist. Why? Because the IRS will only contact you by regular mail. They won’t call you, so no matter what the person on the phone says, hang up and ignore their calls!

The same goes for emails. The IRS will not email you. Remember, regular old “snail mail” is the only way they will contact you. If you’re concerned, you can always call them and ask if there is a problem with your return.

Your Social Security or Taxpayer ID number is at risk, too. At this time of year, con artists want to get their hands on your Social Security or Taxpayer ID number. This is because you might be due a refund, and they want to file a return in your name and claim your money! Never, under any circumstances, give out these numbers over the telephone or email. Scammers might pose as your tax accountant, your relative, even your doctor’s secretary… Remember, don’t give important information over the phone.

This spring, stay safe, and guard your personal information closely. Remember, if you’re in doubt about the identity of a person who calls you, you can hang up. Then call the organization or business in question yourself. Now you’re the one in control, and you ask the questions.

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