It’s tax filing season, but you’re not the only one anxious to get your refund. Scammers are out to get a piece of your wallet—and they’ve got a few new tricks up their sleeves. Here are the top five tax scams you need to look out for:
Scammers posing as IRS agents demanding money over the phone. It’s straightforward, they call demanding money and threaten you with arrest if you don’t pay now.
“The IRS is not going to call you. One thing you can know about the IRS is that they don’t get in a hurry over much,” says Detective Laura Soulier with the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office.
Another scam—A federal student tax. This is where con artists target parents and students to pay a non-existent federal student tax.
“They’re going to be nervous and scared and want to take care of it because these people will threaten to put their children in jail,” says Soulier.
Third on the list—Sending fake notifications about the Affordable Care Act. Everyone’s confused about it, so crooks will take advantage of that and say you owe extra money because of it.
Number four—“Verifying” information. Someone will call wanting to confirm your social security number to make sure it’s really you. But never give out any information to someone you don’t know.
Fifth and final—Emails from someone pretending to be a tax preparer.
“They may be advertising a website that you can click on and you can file your taxes online right now for free,” says Soulier.
But never click on a link sent by someone you don’t know. F.M. Talk 106.5 host Sean Sullivan was filing his taxes a few years ago when the IRS told him someone else with his social security number already did.
“Shocked. And you’re worried about what’s happened here,” says Sullivan.
And even though it was years ago, things still aren’t back to normal.
“Even though things seem to be better now, we continue to have to file with this additional level of security, with a pin number. It’s incredibly frustrating, it take a lot of your time and there are a lot of unknowns,” says Sullivan.
The last thing he wants is you to be a victim.
“You’d rather keep yourself out of it because once it starts, it’s going to be a long, long road,” says Sullivan.
The IRS estimates that they paid out over $3 billion in fake refunds in 2014. Now they’re under pressure to up their protection of your information so that doesn’t happen again. For this reason, they’ll be holding on to your refund a little longer to make sure they’re sending it to the right person.
If you’ve been a victim of one of these scams, here is what you can do next:
Us the IRS Impersonation Scam reporting website at Treasury.gov or call the office of the U.S. Treasury Inspector General at 800-366-4484.
You can file an online complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at FTCcomplaintAssistant.gov
You can also call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040, but expect long wait times.