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Don’t fall for these sneaky tax scams that aim to steal your identity and your money.

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Tax season isn’t fun for most people, but it can be downright miserable if you fall for a scam. This year, there has been a notable increase in the number of scammers posing as IRS officials, and with the rise of AI voice programs, these scams have become more convincing than ever.

Theirs reported 2.4 million tax returns with refunds totaling about $13.8 billion for possible identity theft. Identity thieves use stolen information, such as your SSN, name, address, etc., to file fraudulent tax returns in your name.

Meanwhile, the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) ​​Scam Tracker collects reports of tax scams from the public. For scams reported as tax collection to BBB’s Scam Tracker in 2023, the median dollar loss was $2,100.

Here are some of the scams the BBB is warning you about this tax season.

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Post-it “Tax Time” on tax documents. (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

1. Phone scams

Scammers pretend to be someone theirs and will call you to request to make back payments or send personal information that cannot be found in the IRS system. They often pressure you to act immediately, threatening you with arrest or fines if you do not comply.

In 2024, phone scammers have become so sophisticated that they create fake badge numbers, obtain a fake caller ID name that appears to come from the government, or leave official-sounding robocalls using voices off the AI.

IRS cracks down on ‘high income’ tax fraud, owes hundreds of millions of dollars

2. Phishing Email Scams

Phishing emails are fraudulent emails designed to obtain personal information about you. Scammers will send you text messages, emails, or even social media messages, pretending to be an IRS agent, and they will send you a link to a fake IRS website designed to steal your number. social security and other sensitive personal data. Always remember: the IRS will never communicate with you by email but rather by USPS physical mail.

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A person preparing their tax documents. (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

3. Signs of tax-related identity theft

1. If you are trying to file your tax return by email and receive a letter from the IRS stating that they have already received a return in your name, which could mean your identity has been compromised.

2. Also, if you are going to file your tax return electronically and the IRS warns you that someone filed your return using your Social Security number, then you were probably a victim of identity theft.

3. Finally, if the IRS sends you a letter stating that you have created a new online account and you know you didn’t do that, it’s a clear sign that your identity may have been stolen.

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Tax documents. (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

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Stay safe with these 8 tips from the Better Business Bureau

Tip 1 – Submit your application early

Filing early is one of the surest ways to stay safe during tax season. If you file your application as early as possible, there is less chance that someone will be able to steal your identity by filing your taxes before you do. Always make sure you have all your tax documents ready when you start filing your return.

Tip 2 – Know How the Real IRS Will Contact You

The IRS does not send emails and its agents will never text you or contact you on social media. Typically, the IRS will only contact you by postal mail, but it is possible that an IRS agent will conduct an in-person visit, but only after confirming the visit by postal mail.

Tip 3 – Obtain an Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) from the IRS

An easy way to add an extra layer of security is to obtain an Identity Protection PIN, or IP-PIN, from the IRS. An IP-PIN is a six-digit number that the IRS uses to confirm your identity. This can help identify you even if an attacker has accessed your Tax ID and Social Security number. Registering for an IP-PIN is simple and can be done online at IRS.gov, and the IRS will send you a new IP-PIN after you register each December.

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Calculator and tax documents. (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

MORE: Beware of the “SAY YES” Phone Scam

Tip 4 – Know How the IRS Accepts Payments

The IRS never requires immediate payment and will never ask for a credit card number or banking information over the phone. Never, under any circumstances, pay money to someone claiming to be an IRS agent asking for cryptocurrency, digital gift cards or by bank transfer.

Tip 5 – Know the signs of fraud

If the IRS notifies you that your return has already been filed or that you received wages from an employer you do not know, you should visit an IRS office in person as soon as possible to ensure that you didn’t do it. victim of fraud.

Tip 6 – Protect your information

Be sure to keep all your tax-related documents in a secure location, such as a personal filing cabinet or on a password-protected computer. As a general rule, never give out your Social Security number unless absolutely necessary.

Tip 7 – Use only secure deposit sites

Always make sure you are accessing the real IRS website by checking that the URL is spelled correctly. Look for the lock symbol next to the URL in your browser’s search bar to let you know that your connection to the IRS website is secure.

Tip 8 – Report any suspected scams

If you receive a phone call or email asking for important tax information, hang up immediately. Report the call to the IRS first. Next, you must make a report to the Federal Communications Commission. Finally, go to the Better Business Bureau and report the scam to them scam tracker.

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Person upset by what they see. (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

MORE: HOW SCAMMERS USE GOOGLE VOICE VERIFICATION CODES TO STEAL YOUR IDENTITY AND MONEY

5 things to do if you are a victim of identity theft

1. Complete IRS Form 14039, the Identity Theft Affidavit: This is the form that all fraud victims must fill out for the IRS. This will let them know that the person pretending to be you is a fraudster. You will find the form on the IRS website.

2. Request a copy of the fraudulent tax return from the IRS: You can do this by going to this page on the IRS website about handling fraudulent returns and following instructions for ordering a copy.

3. Alert national credit reporting agencies: Notify national bureaus like Experian, Equifax and TransUnion that fraud has occurred and freeze your account so fraudsters cannot access it.

4. Report the crime to the Federal Trade Commission: The FTC is here to help you track down scammers, and your report can also help them keep track of how many scams occur in a single year so they can better warn others. You must also report the crime to identity theft.gov

5. Check your bank accounts online: Make sure there are no suspicious transactions on any of your accounts.

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A woman is upset while preparing her taxes. (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

MORE: TOP WAYS TO PROTECT AGAINST SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER FRAUD

How to protect yourself against tax identity theft?

Use an identity theft protection service: Identity theft companies can monitor personal information such as your social security number (SSN), phone number, and email address and alert you if it is sold on the dark web or used to open a account. They can also help you freeze your bank and credit card accounts to prevent unauthorized use by criminals.

One of the benefits of using certain services is that they may include identity theft insurance. up to $1 million to cover losses and legal costs and a white glove fraud resolution team where a A US-based case manager helps you recover your losses. Check out my tips and top picks for protecting yourself against identity theft.

Have good antivirus software: The best way to protect yourself from malicious links that install malware that can access your private information is to install antivirus protection on all your devices. This can also alert you to any phishing emails or ransomware scams. Get my picks for the best 2024 antivirus protection winners for your Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices.

Kurt’s Key Takeaways

Moving from winter to spring can seem like a busy time for fraudsters due to the tax season that immediately follows the holiday shopping season. However, the reality is that scammers work 24 hours a day and are active all year round. These tips from the Better Business Bureau are a helpful reminder of ways to protect yourself from scammers all year long.

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What do you think about the rise of AI voice programs and their use in phone scams? Doesn’t that even make you want to pick up the phone? Let us know by writing to us at Cyberguy.com/Contact

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