DENVER – It’s the time of year when everyone is starting to fill out their tax returns (or at least thinking about it) and scammers are looking to take advantage.
The IRS says thousands of people fall victims to tax scams every year, losing millions of dollars.
Here are some of the more common tactics scammers will use to try to trick you out of money or personal information.
A common scam this time of year involves callers posing as the IRS and demanding payment of an outstanding balance. They'll ask for immediate payment, typically in the form of a gift card or prepaid debit card.
Representatives from the IRS will never call to inform you of a debt you owe. The IRS only will send a letter to inform you of official issues or audits. In subsequent contacts, you may hear from an IRS representative, however it won't be out of the blue.
Another scam involves callers demanding payment of the “federal student tax.” The only problem is, such a tax doesn’t exist.
Scammers posing as the IRS might also call and ask you to verify your tax return information over the phone. Whether you’ve filed already or not, the IRS will not call you unexpectedly to verify your information.
The IRS said it saw a 400 percent increase in ‘phishing’ scams last year. These types of scams typically involve an official-looking email with a link that takes you to a website that looks like an official site of the IRS, tax preparers or a tax software company. However, the sites are set up entirely to get your personal information. The sites might even try to install malware on your computer, giving scammers access to your information.
As with other scams, unsolicited emails claiming to be from the IRS should be a red flag. The agency does not send emails out of the blue to taxpayers.
The IRS has a section of its website devoted to tax scams. You’ll find all of that information here.