Although annual federal tax-filing season ends on April 15, tax scams continue throughout the year.
Tax scammers are targeting the military and utilizing the distance of modern technology - phone and email - to gain access to your sensitive tax information. Once a tax scam is complete, the next step is identity theft. Tax scammers are so adept at their crime that before you even realize what is happening, that credit score you worked so hard to maintain can be devastated.
We want to alert you to tax scams that target military families via phone and email and make sure you fully protect yourself and your identity.
TELEPHONE MILITARY TAX SCAM
The IRS warns military families of a particular scenario in which the scammer poses as an IRS employee over the telephone and claims that you are entitled to a $4,000 refund because your relative is in the Armed Forces.
The first red flag is when the scammer requests your credit card number to cover a $42 "shipping charge." The scammer proceeds to give you a toll free IRS phone number to call to verify their legitimacy; meanwhile, they proceed to make unauthorized purchases using your credit card number.
Never give your credit card information to anyone claiming to be from the IRS. Know that the IRS would never request your credit card number by phone for any valid reason. You have spent a lot of time researching, securing and maintaining the best available best credit cards; don't give them away for free.
EMAIL ALERT TO A TAX SCAM
Email is another popular method for tax scamming. You may receive emails appearing to be from the IRS, containing non-IRS links to web pages that request personal financial information.
If you don't recognize an email address it's often wise to not open the email at all; if you do open an email that looks unfamiliar, don't click on any links within the email.
It is important to remember that the IRS will ever request credit card numbers or charge for fees refunds. The IRS also does not request financial data or personal information through email. The IRS will not put links to other websites in their emails; in fact, it is unlikely that the IRS will contact you by email, rather than regular or certified mail. Don't fall for it!
TAX SCAMS LEAD TO IDENTITY THEFT
Once your credit card information is obtained, identity theft takes place. Identity thieves steal more than your valuable possessions; they actually steal the power to take over financial accounts, run up unauthorized charges, apply for loans, and file fraudulent tax returns, all in your name. These actions can significantly damage your credit score and take years to repair.
PROTECT YOUR IDENTITY
Although email and telephone tax scams are being monitored by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, knowing how to protect yourself is the best prevention against tax scams. Always ask for reliable and valid proof of identity before giving out your financial or personal information to anyone by phone or otherwise, and check the source of any web link you are sent.
If you suspect you have been contacted by a military tax scam, alert your military officer and notify the IRS immediately.