There is no shortage of fraudsters and identity thieves willing to do whatever it takes to part consumers with their hard earned cash.
Payments Source reported on its website that in 2015, over 700,000 taxpayers found that someone else had managed to file a tax return on their behalf. These fraudulent returns, known as Stolen Identity Refund Fraud (SIRF) were filed by fraudsters redirecting funds; usually to the thieves’ bank account.
The IRS has noted that even though fewer SIRF returns are being filed, would-be identity thieves are now targeting HR professionals, tax preparers, and payroll departments. Thieves are able to gather this information through different hacks and cleverly disguised phishing email. These accounts look like an internal email but then redirects victims to a site controlled by the scammers.
Most scams are aimed at older taxpayers. The SIRF scammers will resort to using threats of jail time, asset seizure of home and bank accounts or other property and assets if the taxpayer doesn’t pay up immediately and over the phone. Fraudsters prey on fear and ignorance, counting on their victims not knowing any better.
Here are some things to remember when dealing with such scams:
- Most people are aware of when they owe money for taxes. The Internal Revenue Service will never call you on the phone or send an email. If you owe back taxes, are subject to an audit, or if there are other legitimate tax issues, the federal agency will send you a registered letter in the mail that you will have to sign for.
- Taxpayers have the right to question what they owe to the IRS. They will never demand payment through a specific payment method such as pre-paid gift or credit cards.
- IRS personnel will never ask you for bank account, credit card, or debit card information over the phone. You can find out if you officially owe money to the IRS by calling them directly at (800) 829-1040.
- If you receive a request regarding your personal identity, banking details, or any other sensitive information; do not give it out over the phone or through email. Check with your company’s IT department to make sure.
- If you receive a request for your personal information from your Human Resources department by email, double check to be positive. The safest way is to visit the department directly and confirm that such a request is legitimate. If it is, you can give it to them directly where there is less chance of your personal information being compromised.