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Protect Your Tax Refund

It’s tax season. A stressful time for accountants, an exciting time for people receiving refund checks and a busy time for tax scammers. According to the Better Business Bureau, consumers should be on the lookout for these top three tax refund scams.

MoneyStolen Social Security Numbers
Did you know that a scammer can use a stolen social security number or other personal information to file for tax returns for an unsuspecting victim?

The IRS has seen an 80% increase in this type of scam since 2011, and they are expecting that number to continue to increase. Most people don’t even realize that a return was filed in their name until they receive an IRS notice in the mail.

Phishing Scams
Watch out for suspicious phone calls, emails, or even text messages claiming to be the IRS. Scammers may use these methods to contact consumers – telling them that they are entitled to a refund, but personal information must first be revealed to claim it.

Remember, the IRS will only contact you through the mail. Revealing your personal information to a suspicious caller puts you at risk, and that risk is not only limited to tax season.

Unscrupulous Tax Return Preparers
If you are hiring someone to help with your taxes, remember to choose a reputable business. Although it may not be an outright scam, dishonest tax preparation businesses have been known to skim a portion of the client’s refund, charge extravagant fees for return services or even promise a refund too good to be true.

How can you avoid tax refund scams? Follow up on unexpected mail from the IRS. Choose a reputable business to prepare your taxes. Be careful of suspicious emails, text messages or phone calls that claim to be from the IRS. If you suspect a phishing scam is happening, please report it to phishing@irs.gov.
Do not provide any personal information, click on any links or open attachments in suspicious emails or text messages.

For more information about tax fraud visit the IRS’s Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft. And for more information about the scams listed above, visit the Better Business Bureau’s website.

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