Tax season can often be a high-pressure, time-consuming time for small business owners. You don’t need to be looking over your shoulder to avoid scams every step of the way as well. Just like every other year, scam artists are in excess, trying to trick taxpayers out of their hard-earned money, sensitive financial information, or even access to their computers. Let’s look at some pertinent information that will help you avoid scams during the 2017 tax season.
What Types Of Scams Should I Be Aware Of?
Here is a list of the most prevalent IRS-impersonation scams to guard yourself against:
A Request For Fake Tax Payments
Many taxpayers have experienced automated calls where scammers leave urgent callback requests telling them to call back to settle their “tax bill.” These fake calls generally claim to be the last warning before legal action is taken. Taxpayers may also receive live calls from IRS impersonators. They may demand payments on prepaid debit cards, iTunes and other gift cards or wire transfer. Remember, the IRS will never request to settle a tax bill using any of these payment methods.
Fake Federal Student Tax
Telephone scammers are targeting students and parents demanding payments for fictitious taxes, such as the “Federal Student Tax.” If the person does not comply, the scammer becomes aggressive and threatens to report the student to the police to be arrested.
Fraudulent Affordable Care Act Notices
The IRS has received numerous reports around the country of scammers sending a fraudulent version of CP2000 notices for tax year 2015. The scam usually involves an email or letter that includes the fake CP2000. The fraudulent notice includes a payment request that taxpayers mail a check made out to “I.R.S.” to the “Austin Processing Center” at a Post Office Box address.
W-2 Information Inquiries
This scam targets payroll and human resources professionals and presents phishing email schemes that pretend to be from company executives and request personal information on employees. The email contains the actual name of the company chief executive officer. In this scam, the “CEO” sends an email to a company payroll office employee and requests a list of employees and financial and personal information including Social Security numbers (SSN).
Imitation Software Providers
Tax professionals may receive emails pretending to be from tax software companies. The email scheme requests the recipient to download and install an important software update via a link included in the e-mail. Upon completion, tax professionals believe they have downloaded a software update when in fact they have loaded a program designed to track the tax professional’s keystrokes, which is a common tactic used by cyber thieves to steal login information, passwords and other sensitive data.
Phone Calls to Verify Tax Return Information
The IRS has reports of a scam where scam artists call saying they have your tax return, and they just need to verify a few details to process your return. The scam tries to get you to give up personal information such as a Social Security number (SSN) or personal financial information, including bank numbers or credit cards.
Emails From Fake Tax Preparers
The emails are designed to trick taxpayers into thinking these are official communications from the IRS or others in the tax industry, including tax software companies. The phishing schemes can ask taxpayers about a wide range of topics. E-mails or text messages can seek information related to refunds, filing status, confirming personal information, ordering transcripts and verifying PIN information.
What To Do If You Come Across A Scam?
The IRS is aware of the scams affecting taxpayers and wants to protect you. If you have received an email from someone impersonating the IRS, forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org and promptly delete it. If you have received a phone call or any other communication from the IRS that you are unsure about, contact them at 1-800-366-4484 to verify its authenticity.
You work hard to earn your money, protect your privacy, and safeguard your business, and it is my goal to work with you to look after these critical aspects of your life. Take heed when dealing with emails or phone calls that have anything to do with your finances. If you want to learn more about protecting yourself from scams, please don’t hesitate to contact us today by filling out this form or giving us a call at 801.495.2533 ext.104. We look forward to hearing from you.
Mark Fankhauser is a CPA and the founder of Suisse Business Advisors, providing risk assessment, tax preparation, consulting, and CFO services to small businesses so they can reduce their tax liability and dedicate their undivided attention to their business. He also works one-on-one with individuals to help them mitigate their taxes. He started his career in 1994 as a Senior Auditor at Ernst & Young and worked as Director of Finance at Ascensus/BISYS Insurance Services before forming his own practice. In all he does, he combines the time-honored Swiss attention to detail with the American dream of financial success—success for a business owner’s company. To learn more about Mark, visit https://suisse.biz/ or connect with him on LinkedIn.