Anchorage, Alaska. —Jan. 23, 2016 — With tax season underway and Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week set to kick-off Jan. 31, Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest is reminding the public to be vigilant with their personal information.
Tax collection scams were the most reported fraud cases to BBB in 2016 with more than 7,500 reported.
BBB serving the Northwest is urging consumers to be wary of unsolicited phone calls, emails or letters purported to be from the IRS or any official-sounding government agency.
Watch for these common tax related scams:
- Impostor Scams: Scammers pose as IRS agents and instill fear in victims by demanding money or threatening jail time. Fraudsters will spoof phone numbers so the call appears to be coming from the IRS or local law enforcement. There’s been some cases where cons obtain a victim’s personal information, adding credence to the demand for money.
- Tax Relief Scams: Watch for deceptive advertisements claiming to greatly reduce a person’s tax liability. Scammers will use official looking IRS notices or websites to sway people into paying unnecessary money or divulging private and personal information.
- ID theft: Scammers use stolen personal information, social security numbers and falsified W-2 information to file fraudulent tax returns in the victim’s name. In some cases, thieves stole W-2’s out of unsecured mailboxes.
To protect your identity this tax season, please take the following precautions.
- E-file only from secure computers. Make sure anti-virus software is up-to-date and never use public Wi-Fi to file tax returns.
- Don’t file taxes from a link in an email.
- Mail tax returns from the post office or a secure mailbox.
- Shred old tax returns. Income tax returns and worksheets should be kept for seven years from the filing date.
- Check your credit report once a year to make sure no unauthorized accounts have been opened in your name.
- If you have questions, call the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040 or go to irs.gov.