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The Darker Side of Tax Season

The Darker Side of Tax Season

Yes, a darker side than owing taxes. Thanks to cyber and telephone criminals, tax season can be worse than just paying your taxes. On the heels of holiday scams, we see an uptick in fraud tied to tax filings. Is nothing sacred? Even the season we hate becomes more unbearable as fraudsters start sneaking and scamming. Your tax returns, refunds, and payments can all be targets. Be diligent and cautious when responding to inquiries and protecting your personal data.

Be Cautious

  • Phishing emails
    • Often originate from “IRS Online”
    • Contain attachments referring to “Tax Account Transcript” or similar titles
    • Variations of “Tax Transcript” is a common subject line
    • Bad emails ask for personal information    i.e. birthdate, social security number, credit/debit card numbers for payments
  • Telephone Scams
    • Caller claims to be from IRS or say they work on behalf of the IRS
    • Caller threatens a lawsuit or arrest if payment isn’t made immediately, usually requesting payment via a debit, credit, or gift card.

You Should Know

  • The IRS does not reach out to taxpayers by social media, text, or email to request personal or financial information.
  • The IRS does not call to threaten or notify taxpayers of a lawsuit or arrest.
  • Do not click on a link or an attachment from an unverified source.
  • Emails can look real when they are not. Look closely at the sender’s email address. Does it make sense, or is it just similar to a real address?
  • Spelling and grammatical errors in an email usually mean it’s not legit.
  • Protect your personal information year-round.   i.e. don’t give it out to unknown sources, shred dated documents (at a CUA shred day!), etc.

What Else?

  • If you’re not 110% sure about a call or email, DO NOT give out any information, and don’t respond verbally or in writing. You don’t need to explain yourself to the inquirer.  Terminate the call, delete the email. If you are still curious, contact the supposed company/IRS that’s calling. Call them from a number that you have found independent from the inquiry.
  • For updated information on tax scams or details on legitimate IRS contacts, visit  https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-scams-consumer-alerts.

Now, if you can avoid the scams, refunds will arrive safely and paying taxes won’t seem nearly as dark, right? If you do have to pay and money is slim, contact your local CUA. We’ve got ideas for savings plans for next year’s taxes, debt restructuring, and even great credit cards and personal loans to get you through the rough spots in life.   

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