Tis’ the Season for Tax Fraud
It’s tax time. As you prepare your taxes or eagerly await any refunds, it’s also time to be aware of tax scams. These scams include phishing emails, texts or phone calls that may warn of a delay with your return, promise a bigger refund or offer you a “helpful downloadable document.” These scams are designed to steal your refund, bank account information or identity by compelling you to provide your private information to the scammer.
The IRS estimates that it paid $5.2 billion in fraudulent refunds as a result of identity theft last year. This year, in light of recent data breaches, individuals are urged to be especially careful. New scams offer credit monitoring services due to a breach or claim to be from popular tax software providers. The IRS has provided a list of The Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2015‡ to help keep us up to date on the latest scams.
In addition, be particularly aware of common tax season phishing emails like these:
- You’re owed a refund and need to forward your bank account information for the refund deposit. The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through email or social media to request personal or financial information. If you receive an unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Exciting offers or refunds for participating in an “IRS Survey.” This fake survey is actually used to acquire private and confidential information that is used to steal your identity.
- Threats of fines or jail time for not making an immediate payment, or responding to the email. If you receive an intimidating email like this and even believe you might owe on taxes, contact your local IRS office‡ and report the threatening email.
- Documents or tools for tax preparation (e.g. “new changes in the tax law,” a tax calculator, etc.). Those “helpful” documents mentioned earlier may, in fact, be malicious files intended to infect your computer. Remember not all unsolicited email is legitimate. If you need current tax information, go to the IRS‡ website or consult with a tax professional.
Scams don’t stop with phishing emails. Here are some helpful tips if you get calls or texts from someone pretending to be from the IRS:
- If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 800-829-1040.
- If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1.800.366.4484 or at gov‡.
- If phone scammers target you, also contact the Federal Trade Commission. Use their FTC Complaint Assistant‡ to report the scam, and include “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.
Remember, identity theft doesn’t stop at tax season so exercise your “spidey sense” with any email, unsolicited text or call asking for your personal information.
When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.
Ms. Flores serves as senior vice president and Chief Information Security Officer, providing oversight of UMB’s information security and privacy programs. She joined UMB in 2010 and more than 15 years of experience in information technology and information security. She attended Kansas State University with a focus on management information systems and is a Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP/US) and Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA).