Beware: Tax Scams on the Rise
Identity theft crimes are is growing nationwide. Internal Revenue Service officials say many schemes target tax payers. But federal officials are stepping up their efforts to protect the public from tax refund fraud and identity theft.
In January, the U.S. Department of Justice, local U.S. Attorney’s offices and IRS Criminal Investigation announced the results of a nationwide sweep that led to more than 700 enforcement actions carried out against nearly 400 suspects, including two in North Carolina.
Mark Hanson, spokesman with the IRS Office in Greensboro says the Internet is a common source for scam artists.
“Especially this time of year, you might open up your e-mail account and see an email claiming to be from the IRS saying that your refund was returned to the IRS and they need more information to process it or you are due an additional refund. Some the scams we have seen in the past threaten to audit the taxpayer if they do not respond with personal information,” says Hanson.
Hanson says the bottom line is that the IRS will not send you an email message asking you for your personal information.
Over the past year, the IRS has doubled the number of employees assigned to work on identity theft- related issues. Hanson says taxpayers can take some basic steps to protect their personal information.
“There are some people out there who might keep their Social Security Card in their wallet and if the wallet is filled with that and other information like credit card and bank account numbers and it falls into the wrong hands, it could cause serious issues because the scam artist could have enough information to file a fraudulent tax return in your name and claim a refund, says Hanson.
Hanson says people should consider shredding or destroying old tax returns and other documents in another way instead of throwing them directly into the trash can. He says many people don't find out they are a victim of identity theft until they go to file their federal tax return.
Hanson says if you think your personal information has been lost or stolen contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit immediately at 1-800-908-4490