We often reach out to offer advice on taking care of your health, but financial wellness is important too. Since tax season is now upon us, we wanted to remind you that this is also the season of rampant tax-related scams. Watch out for these common tricks, to protect your tax status and bank account.
Suspicious phone calls. Here is an important rule to remember: The IRS will never call you regarding an audit or problem with your tax return. If you receive one of these calls, hang up the phone no matter what the person says. They are only trying to scare you into making a “payment” over the phone.
You can always contact the IRS directly, or check with your tax professional if you’re worried about your tax return.
Phony emails. The IRS also will not contact you via email. Unfortunately, con artists can create fake emails that appear quite convincing. But don’t let them trick you into giving them information. Delete the email immediately, and don’t click any links within in.
Fake tax professionals. If you hire a professional to help you with your taxes, remember to choose a reputable company. Some of these temporary tax preparation companies are frauds, and they disappear after tax season – along with your personal information, and sometimes, your refund.
Bogus charities. Yes, you can earn a tax deduction for charitable donations, but only if you give to a charity that is qualified by the IRS. Check the IRS website to search for any organization to whom you’re considering giving money. Some fake charities do exist, and they look very much like legitimate groups. Also, remember that any money you donate now can only be claimed on your 2019 tax return, when you file next spring.
What if you file your return, anticipating a refund, only to receive a notice from the IRS that you have already filed? This could mean that someone else stole your information, filed a return in your name, and fraudulently claimed your refund. Call the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490 to report the problem.
When it comes to your personal information, you can’t be too careful. Only share your Social Security number and other important data with a reputable tax professional, or use highly-rated tax filing software to do your taxes. If you’re unsure of how to proceed, ask a financial planner for a referral.