The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently announced that the tax season for 2019 will open on Monday, January 28th and they will begin accepting paper and electronic tax returns on that day. As with previous years, it is important that you stay vigilant and watch out for potential scams while you are preparing to file your taxes. Criminals and fraudsters are particularly active this time of the year and will try to scam you in person, over the phone, or through email.
Business Insider spoke with three CPAs for their advice on how to spot and avoid tax season scams.
- Phishing emails
Phishing emails have been a problem for years and they will continue to be a strategy used by criminals in 2019. These emails will look like they are from the IRS or a bank and they will ask you to visit their site to update your account. The page will look official and criminals hope that you will enter your private information. This year, there is a new twist and phishing emails may come from professional associations that you belong to.
- Phone Calls from the “IRS”
Criminals may try to call you claiming to be the IRS and wanting you to provide private information over the phone. However, the IRS will almost never make initial contact with you by phone. Also, these scammers may pressure you to give them information or suffer severe consequences. The IRS does not do anything immediate. They have a process of warning letters, register mail, and other paper information before they start to demand money.
- Pop-up tax preparers
The typical in-person tax scams revolve around fraudulent tax preparers. These criminals will create a fake business and pose as knowledgeable tax preparers. But, they may steal your private information or report a loss on your tax return in order to inflate your refund for their benefit. The best way to protect yourself against this scam is to make sure you know who is preparing your taxes and look over your taxes before you file them.
- Fake Tax Bills
It is important that you be on the look out for fake IRS tax bills that come through the mail. Even though the IRS usually contacts you through the mail, you should double-check any bill you receive. If you suspect a bill you received is fraudulent, be sure you check with the IRS before sending in a payment.
For more advice on how to avoid scams this tax season, see the article “10 Scams You Should Watch Out for this Tax Season, and How to Avoid Them” on Business Insider’s website.