This tax season, the AARP Fraud Watch Network is helping to protect people from scams and encouraging folks to take advantage of AARP’s free tax preparation services.
AARP is warning about two tax scams:
IRS IMPOSTER SCAM
What is it?
An intimidating and sophisticated phone scam, callers claim to be IRS employees, and say you owe taxes. They might also:
· threaten to arrest or deport you if you don’t pay
· know all or part of your Social Security number
· rig caller ID to make it look like the call is from the IRS
· tell you to put the money on a prepaid debit card and tell them the card number
What to do?
Know that the IRS dos NOT:
· call to demand immediate payment about taxes owed without first sending you a notification by mail
· ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone
· threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement to arrest you for nonpayment
TAX ID THEFT
What is it?
Your personal information is stolen for a fraudulent refund. More specifically, tax identity theft can involve:
· filing a tax return using another person’s Social Security number
· claiming some else’s children as dependents
· claiming a tax refund using a deceased taxpayer’s information
Your personal information can be stolen in a numbers of ways, including theft of mail or tax returns, corrupt tax preparation services, or phony emails from imposters. Con Artists can quickly learn a lot about you in order to take your money while also defrauding the government.
What to do?
To avoid tax identity theft:
· Do mail tax returns as early in the tax season as possible before the cons beat you to it
· Don’t give out personal information unless you know who’s asking for it and why they need it
· Do shred personal and financial documents
· Do know your tax preparer
· Do check the status of your refund after filing at irs.gov/refunds
· According to the Federal Trade Commission many taxpayers make their personal information easy pickings by:
· Failing to lock their mailbox. Almost six in 10 (59 percent) Americans do not regularly lock their mailbox, which leaves them open to a criminal stealing bills, tax forms and other documents that contain personal information.
· Leaving valuables exposed: More than half (54 percent) of Americans ages 18-49 have left at least one valuable personal item in their car in the last week (e.g., a purse/wallet, paystub, laptop) that could be used to steal their identity.
· Failing to destroy personal information: More than one in five (21 percent) Americans say they never shred any of the personal documents that could be used to steal their identity.
For these and other fraud prevention tips, visit aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork or contact the IRS directly at (800) 829-1040.
AARP is also encouraging people to visit aarp.org/taxaide (888-687-2277) for information about AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, the nation’s largest free, volunteer-run tax preparation program. Since 1968, this program has involved nearly 35,000 volunteers and serves 2.7 million taxpayers annually at more than 5,000 sites nationwide. AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Aide helps millions of low- to moderate-income taxpayers — especially those 50 and older — get the credits and deductions they deserve.