1. File as early as possible
Even though tax return are not due until April 15th, we recommend filing tax returns as soon as possible to get ahead of potential fraudulent filings submitted on your beheld. Traditionally, tax advisors wait to file close to the deadline if a payment is due, but it may behoove you to file early, regardless of whether there is a payment due, to help prevent fraudsters from filing before you.
2. Be vigilant about suspicious emails ,phone calls and text messages.
Email scams may claim to be from the IRS or others in the tax industry, including tax software companies. These emails may ask the recipient to update or provide important information via a link to a website that appears to be an official IRS website but is actually fake. In addition, some of these websites may contain malware.
The IRS urges anyone who believes they may have received a fraudulent tax email not to click any links in the email and to forward the email to email@example.com.
Tax scams that happen via telephone call or text message often have common characteristics that you can look out for to identify a fake, including:
- Fake names and IRS badge numbers. Look out for common names and surnames.
- Scammers may know the last four digits of your Social Security number.
- The IRS toll-free telephone number can be spoofed on caller ID.
- Telephone scammers may follow up with an email containing a link to a fraudulent website that is often malware-infected.
- Background noise that sounds like a call center.
- Scammers may threaten victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, then hang up and call back claiming to be the local police or DMV while also spoofing the numbers of these departments on caller ID.
- Foreign language use and claims that the call is from a foreign embassy investigating tax nonpayment.
3. Verify Schedule K-1 and W-2 Form Requests
Be sure to password-encrypt K-1, W-2, 1099 and copies of tax documents when sending them via email and do not distribute the password via email. We recommend that you use password-protected portals for transferring such documents.
4. Use a shredder
“Dumpster diving” is more common than most believe. We strongly recommend that you use a modern, crosscut shredder to dispose of sensitive documents that contain personal data, including any disposed tax forms.
5. Validate charities
Fraudulent charities have become common, and attackers use breached email boxes to send support requests for these charities to victims. Before providing a credit card or payment to a charity, validate whether the charity is legitimate.
6. Raise Awareness
Share this information with family, friends, staff and colleagues. Knowledge is the best weapon against scammers. If you or someone you know has been the victim of identity theft or a fraudulent wire transaction, reach out to your local police department and/or the FBI for assistance.