Tax time scams

by Robyn Wright on March 31, 2012

in Living

Tax Time ScamsWith the peak of tax season upon us we need to make sure that we do not fall victim to scams that are out there. This happens offline as well as online. Not only do you need to protect yourself, but I really feel strongly that we need to let our friends and family know about these issues as well. Scammers may be jerks, but many of them are quite smart, and honestly not all of the honest people in the world are brilliant either.

  • The IRS does not email you about issues with your taxes. If you get an email claiming to be from them consider it phishing and delete it.
  • There are many online tax preparation services. Pick a company you have heard. Do not let a cheap price by a tiny site suck you in, you may pay a bit more at a well-known site, but you will have more peace of mind that they are legitimate and that your documents and data are secured.
  • If you get a pop-up ad while browsing the internet claiming your tax information has been compromised or your computer is at risk – assume it is an ad/scam. If you are unsure if a security warning is legitimately from your own security programs, open that program directly and look at the history.
  • Do not do your taxes online at the coffee shop or other free Wi-Fi spots. We talk about banking and shopping online a lot in this area, but really taxes are definitely not something you want to do over free public Wi-Fi.
  • If you get an email with an ad for an online tax service, type in the URL directly rather than clicking on the link. Phishing emails look very real and they can use the real sites graphics even but the link is really to their phishing site instead.
  • If you receive snail mail that you are not sure is real or not from the IRS, ask someone else. Local tax offices should be able to tell you and your bank may be able to help also.
  • Be careful with your postal mail this time of year – there are lots of mailbox thieves. Take in your mail when it arrives right away and if you have to mail a check to the IRS (or anyone really) take it directly to a post office mailbox that is locked instead.

Another tip is to keep an eye on your financial information right after tax time to make sure you haven’t been compromised. This is actually important to do all year round, but right after tax time is when a lot of problems happen. Identity Guard provides this kind of service. I’ve been using it for a couple of months now and it really is a great service. They also offer a kID Sure program to help keep your kids identities safe – this is a bigger issue than you would think – see my post Are your children’s IDs safe?

Identity Guard also has some other information that you might find useful. You can download their 3 eBooks for free: Double Trouble – Online safety tips and how to deal with identity theft; Identity Theft & You – How to protect yourself, your PC, your home, and your kids; and Best of the Daily Shield 2012 – Dealing with cyber threats, fraud, and social networking. They also have a great Tax-Time Indentity Theft post and a really good post about how identity theft happens that are both well worth reading and sharing with friends and family.

Disclosure: This service was provided to me for review at no charge. In addition I received monetary compensation. All opinions are my own.

© 2012, Robyn Wright. All rights reserved.

Comments on this entry are closed.

{ 17 comments }

1 cstironkat March 31, 2012 at 3:07 pm

My CPA retired this year, and it was scary trying to make sure I could find someone I could trust. Thank goodness a friend of mine recommended her CPA. 

2 Wanda McHenry March 31, 2012 at 4:47 pm

I still can’t believe how many identities have been stolen and thank goodness for some eagle eye postal workers that have caught many of these fraudulent returns.

3 JeannetteNL1966 March 31, 2012 at 8:42 pm

So good of you to post this information as we face the same issues here in Canada. One of my good friends actually had her identity stolen and it started with her tax information. It was a horrible mess that took her months and months to straighten out. As wonderful as the internet is, it is also a tool for those without a conscience. I found it sad that we even need companies that offer services such as protecting ones’ identity but it is now a sad reality…I will make sure to Stumble and pass this post on as we can all use a reminder of just how easy people can take advantage of us all.

4 Robyn's Online World April 1, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Glad to know it was useful in Canada too. I honestly have no idea how things work up there as far as taxes and IDs.

5 Nanette_AMomBlog March 31, 2012 at 9:46 pm

Great and timely tips. Hard to believe but obviously some people are still being fooled by these scams.

6 tannawings April 1, 2012 at 12:37 am

There was an email not too long ago about the IRS looking for you, and I saw another about ‘your income tax return’ just yesterday. The predators tend to come out any time of the year money is involved , but right now is especially scary since you have to use your SSN. I STILL  don’t file electronically…… and never will I just don’t think there is a website anywhere that can’t be breached.

7 Robyn's Online World April 1, 2012 at 9:03 pm

I agree that all sites can be hacked, I do file electronically though and have for many years, but you know me LOL – I love being online!

8 nickie burke April 1, 2012 at 7:15 am

Another great post. I have had my identity stolen in the past and it’s a real pain to recover from, I wish I knew some of these tips then.  I really didn’t know that people waited around to steal your mail..that’s just crazy to me.

9 Robyn's Online World April 1, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Were you able to find out how they stole your identity? How long was it before you knew it had happened?

10 Cecilia Tiepelman April 1, 2012 at 5:41 pm

It’s amazing how many people actually fall for these scams. Definitely some important tips to pass along.

11 Betty Baez April 4, 2012 at 9:11 pm

It’s crazy that a lot of people fall pray to scammers, I have a friend who clicked on of those and ended up with a virus thankfully I’m not so gullible, great tips!

12 jkebeans April 7, 2012 at 8:49 pm

So many scams out there it is so important to pay attention and keep up on your finances.

13 Abbe Brown April 9, 2012 at 12:27 pm

There are so many signs on the side of the road here for people to do your taxes. I honestly don’t understand why anyone would go to anyone advertising on the side of the road when there are so many legitimate companies & accountants out there, 

14 Ingrid April 12, 2012 at 11:25 am

I know many people that fall for this and other kinds of scams. I’ve got my family trained, it they’re not sure, delete it or put it in spam. If it’s the real thing, they will get notified by snail mail and even then you must be careful.

15 Eileen Richter April 13, 2012 at 1:40 am

other than not using a public computer to send tax info out, I had no idea scammers linked to phish more during tax time. Ugggh…my husband is a software guy and always says if the scammers put as much time in at a REAL job, being so clever and sneaky and obviously knowlegable about computers, theyd have a pretty good paying job with integrity intact. God, they make me SO mad! 

Thanks for the advice…will pass on to our adult kids too. 

16 Robyn's Online World April 16, 2012 at 7:34 pm

I totally agree – put that skill to good use!

17 LAXDUDE May 2, 2012 at 11:44 pm

ipad!

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