Every year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) releases its Dirty Dozen list of tax scams. This year is no exception, with a newly updated list available on the IRS website. Despite this, and the increasing awareness of internet scams, many people still seem to fall foul of these practices. Recently, the warnings appear to be arriving ever more frequently, with the latest urging taxpayers not to be taken in by phony websites. The new scam actually uses a website that mimics the IRS eServices registration page, all in an effort to persuade the unwary user to enter personal information.
Of course, this is just the latest in a long line of schemes aimed at stealing the victim’s money or identity. In particular, identity theft is a growing problem for the IRS, just as it is in everyday life. Identity is typically stolen in order to file falsified returns.
Protecting yourself isn’t difficult. Here are a few pointers to help:
- The IRS website is www.irs.gov. If you find a website, or receive an email with a link to a website, that is not this, then there’s likely to be a problem. In particular, in emails, try just hovering over the link to see where it is really going to take you. It might say www.irs.gov within the email, but you will see that the site it really takes you to is very different.
- Even if the email looks legitimate, do not ever enter personal information. The IRS will never ask you for personal information via email, or any other electronic methods such as text or social media – those “text messages” really aren’t “taxed messages” – the IRS does not use these!
- The IRS systems are far from perfect, as can be seen by the number of successful scams. However, the IRS is improving. One example is where the IRS will send out notifications where they receive multiple returns. The duplicate might well be a falsified return as a result of identity theft. Respond immediately and let the IRS know that there might be a problem.
- There are other methods thieves will use, including bogus mail, phony calls, and so on. The IRS provides complete details on methods used and ways to report them on their website.
Be alert, protect yourself, and report any criminal activity immediately.