Taxpayers: watch out for scams

Taxpayers: watch out for scams
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The IRS warns taxpayers to be on high alert for common tax scams that pop up during tax season. Take a look at the annual "Dirty Dozen" list released by the IRS.

This tax season, Better Business Bureau Northwest & Pacific is partnering with Washington State Office of the Attorney General to warn the public about the dangers of tax identity theft. This joint warning is in alliance with Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week, which runs from Jan. 29 – Feb. 2, 2018. The public is urged to be vigilant with their personal information so they don’t fall victim of tax identity theft.

Here’s how the scam works:

Tax identity theft occurs when someone gets access to your Social Security number and uses it to get a tax refund or job. You’ll discover it occurred when you receive a letter from the IRS stating more than one tax return was filed in your name, or IRS records show you have wages from an employer you do not know.

“Tax scams are pervasive and scammers seem to change their tactics every year,” said Attorney General, Bob Ferguson. “The best way to protect your identity and your hard-earned tax return is to get educated – know the warning signs of a scam, and how to keep your personal information safe.”

A recording of a real tax scam call can be found at http://bit.ly/2DSj9QD . Please listen and share the call with your contacts to help combat this con. If sharing on social media please use the hashtag #BBBFightsScams to help raise public awareness.

“BBB hears from victims and targets of tax scams every day. The best way to arm ourselves against these types of identity thieves is through education,” Tyler Andrew, BBB Northwest + Pacific CEO, said. “That’s why we’re committed to working with agencies, such as the Idaho Attorney General’s office, to inform the public about the latest tax and identity scams plaguing the country.”

Be wary of unsolicited phone calls, emails or letters purported to be from the IRS or any official-sounding government agency.

Watch for these common tax related scams:

Impostor Scams: Scammers pose as IRS agents and pressure victims by demanding money or threatening jail time. Fraudsters may spoof phone numbers, so the call appears to be coming from the IRS or local law enforcement.

Tax Relief Scams: Watch for deceptive advertisements claiming to reduce a person’s tax liability greatly. Scammers will use official looking IRS notices or websites to sway people into paying unnecessary money or divulging private and personal information.
ID Theft: Scammers use stolen personal information, social security numbers and falsified W-2 information to file fraudulent tax returns in the victim’s name. In some cases, thieves stole W-2’s out of unsecured mailboxes.

To protect your identity this tax season, take the following precautions:

If having your taxes prepared for you, be sure to use qualified preparers and make sure they include their Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN).
Be wary of preparers who guarantee high value tax returns.

Be cautious of preparers who tell you that you need to obtain other services from them in order for them to complete your taxes. Other services may be notary services, immigration services or sending registered letters.
E-file only from secure computers. Make sure anti-virus software is up-to-date and never use public Wi-Fi to file tax returns.
Don’t file taxes from a link in an email.