Tax Season Brings Out Scammers – Red Flags To Watch For
With tax season in full swing and the April 15th tax deadline quickly approaching, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is urging Arizona consumers to be aware of potential tax related scams.
“Scam artists use this stressful time of year to try to get their hands on your money and exploit your personal information,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “I want consumers to be aware of the risks of falling for a tax scam this time of year.”
The Attorney General warns that scammers will pose as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) via unsolicited phone calls or emails. They may make calls to consumers telling them that if they do not provide immediate payment, the IRS will take legal action. In some situations, the scam artists will leave a voicemail with a return phone number, which is most likely a “spoofed” phone number to give the appearance of being legitimate. The scam artists may even provide fake IRS employee identification numbers.
If you receive a call from someone who claims to be with the IRS, follow these tips:
- Call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1(800)-366-4484 or at www.tigta.gov.
- If you are concerned that you owe back taxes, contact the IRS directly. Contact information can be found at 1(800)-829-1040 or at www.irs.gov.
- Never provide any bank account information, credit card information, or other personal or financial information to a person or company that you do not know.
- Never pay someone demanding payment over the telephone with a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. If it is a scam, once the money has been sent, it is very difficult to get your money back.
- The IRS communicates via U.S. mail. Any email claiming to be from the IRS is not legitimate.
Arizona Attorney General Brnovich offers these additional tips:
- Never give any personal information to someone you don’t know who calls or emails you and offers to help with your taxes.
- Be cautious of companies or individuals who contact you and claim that they can check on the status of your tax refund for a fee. Consumers can go directly to the IRS website to check status at www.irs.gov and click the icon “Where’s My Refund” to check the status of an anticipated refund.
- Watch out for services claiming to eliminate your debt with the IRS for “cents on the dollar.” Many of these companies charge high fees and rarely obtain the promised results.
- If you enter into an agreement with a tax preparation service, be sure to get a copy of the signed contract and other paperwork before you leave the business.
- Think twice before you choose an “instant” or “rapid” refund. These types of refunds are also known as Refund Anticipation Loans. They can give consumers cash quickly but may have high fees and interest rates.
If you think you have been a victim of a tax scam, Attorney General Brnovich wants to hear from you. Please call (602) 542- 5763 or visit https://www.azag.gov/complaints/consumer. For more information on National Consumer Protection Week and tax scams, contact the Attorney General’s Office at (602) 542-5025.