Broker Check

Navigating Tax Season Safely

| March 01, 2024

Tax season is upon us when we reconcile our dues with Uncle Sam. However, it's also a period when some unscrupulous individuals exploit this necessity, conducting scams to defraud unsuspecting taxpayers.

In this digital age, tax scams have become increasingly sophisticated, making it challenging for individuals to discern between legitimate tax issues and fraudsters. One scam involves swindlers posing as a third party offering to help create an online account at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to pay taxes. The information they collect can be used to file a sham tax return, with the scammer pocketing the refund, or for other types of financial fraud or identity theft.1

It's crucial to remember that the IRS communicates mainly through the mail and will generally make contact by phone or in person only after a taxpayer has received multiple written notices. They will never ask for immediate payment, threaten to call the police, or ask you to pay a tax bill with a gift card, a prepaid debit card, or a wire transfer.2

Furthermore, be wary of "free money" scams. Criminals may promise unclaimed refunds or stimulus funds, often requiring an upfront fee to "retrieve" your money. Remember, this email is to help make you aware that tax fraud can happen. Consult your tax, legal, or accounting professional before responding to any new claim.3

To help protect yourself, consider setting up your IRS Online Account at IRS.gov, and avoid storing financial records and information in an email account. If you receive unsolicited communication claiming to be from the IRS, you might want to check with your tax professional before responding. If appropriate, the next step may be reporting it to local law enforcement, the FBI, the state attorney general, AARP, and the FTC.

As we navigate this tax season, I hope you stay alert. Feel free to reach out if you have any concerns or need guidance.

1. CNBC.com, January 18, 2024. "‘Fraud is at a crisis level,’ says expert: 5 financial scams to watch out for in 2024."

2. AARP.org, July 27, 2023

3. LVPNews.com, January 9, 2024. "AARP: Scams the IRS wants you to know about."