MARCH 7, 2012
Don’t let tax scams steal your identity
PHOENIX – Whether consumers have already filed their taxes or are in the process of doing so, now is the time to be guarded against tax scams. BBB advises consumers to beware of any strange electronic communications about taxes or refunds that appear to be coming from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
According the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) annual report, Arizona has been nationally ranked as either the number one or number two state for identity theft since 2003. Identity theft usually occurs when someone’s name, social security number, credit card number or other piece of personal identifying information is used to obtain credit cards, loans, and more without consent.
“Typically around this time, we see scam artists send emails to the masses with the intent to mislead hardworking taxpayers into thinking they are the IRS,” BBB President/CEO Matthew Fehling said.
Indeed, identity thieves will impersonate the IRS to ‘phish’ for personal and private information by using technology to their advantage. The emails may state there is a problem with a refund and confirmation of personal or financial information is required to resolve the issue. Unfortunately, once a consumer verifies the personal information or clicks on a link, which leads to a fake website asking for more information, they are at risk.
BBB offers the following tips on how consumers can prevent falling for a tax scam email and becoming a victim of identity theft:
• Be wary of any emails or phone calls that claim to be from the IRS as they do not initiate taxpayer communications through email.
• Do not provide any personal information, click on links or open any attachments.
• Do not reply to text messages claiming to be from the IRS.
Contact the IRS directly to verify additional correspondence by locating the nearest local office on irs.gov. There are ten IRS offices throughout Arizona.
Consumers who receive an unsolicited email that appears to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), should report it immediately by sending it to firstname.lastname@example.org.