2016 IRS Tax Scams: The Top Scams & How To Protect Yourself This Tax Season

The 2016 tax season is here and so are the swindlers looking to take your hard-earned money.

With so many IRS refunds being issued now is prime time for thieves, as they continue to come up with new and devious ways to trick you and steal what’s yours.

To stop that from happening,  we have a list of the latest tax scams, courtesy of the IRS and news reports from NBC, so you know what to look for and how to protect yourself.

IRS Phone Scams: This is one of the most prevalent and damaging scams going around, where you receive a call from an “IRS Agent” demanding you make a payment or go to jail for back taxes you owe.

The crooks will either ask you to pay immediately or make payments and ask for a credit, debit or prepaid card.

This is a scam, as the IRS will NEVER:

•Call, they correspond by mail if there is any issue with you owing back taxes or any other matter.  They will send you a bill or letter in the mail to notify you.

•Threaten you with jail time or a lawsuit.

•Demand you pay without allowing you to question, investigate or appeal the amount you owe.

•Demand that you pay your taxes a certain way, like with a prepaid debit card.
•Ask for your credit or debit card over the phone.

If you get a call like this and don’t owe taxes, or don’t think that you do:

•Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. Use the  “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page to report the call.
•Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov.

Be sure to add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your report.

For those who think they may owe taxes:

•Ask the caller for a call back number and an employee badge number, then hang up and call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS employees can help you to see if the call you got was real and tell you if you owe anything.

IRS Email Scam: With this scam you may get an email that looks “official” and directly form the IRS, offering you a big refund or threatening you with an audit using phony tax bills.

These are known as phishing emails and they once again are a scam.  Don’t be fooled by the IRS logo or links to what appear to be real websites related to the IRS.

The IRS does not communicate via email for refunds or audits- they contact you by mail or your tax preparer/company does.

If you get a phishing email:

•Don’t reply to the message;  instead, forward the email to phishing@irs.gov. and then delete it.
•Don’t give out your personal or financial information.
•Don’t open any attachments or click on any links because they can contain malware and infect your computer.

Identity Theft: During tax season many criminals steal your tax information, like your Social Security number, then file a phony tax return and take the refund.

To prevent this, use a personal identification number assigned by the IRS if you file electronically.

Phony Tax Prep Services: While most store fronts and tax preparers are on the up and up, there are some who set up shop just to steal your information and make money off of you.

Investigate anyone and any place you plan to use first.  If they offer big refunds without even looking at your papers or charge an abnormally high fee then look elsewhere.

Also, if they rush through your taxes be wary: it takes time and attention to detail to find the right deductions and maximize your savings.

You can check out any business or tax professional online using the BBB (Better Business Bureau) website.

Are you concerned about protecting yourself this 2016 tax season?

Tell us below if you’ve had any issues and be sure to follow all my latest consumer news reports on Twitter!

Consumer Expert Tracy Ortiz

I am a mom to 2 little boys: a 10 year- old and an 8 year-old and they are the only things I love more than writing. I am an avid reader, a big sports fan and love a good deal. Most of all, I love keeping up on the latest consumer news and sharing my findings with all of you. When I'm not writing I'm painting- check out my latest in my shop: etsy.com/shop/paintmeapicstudios