Tips to avoid scams as a new tax season begins

Betty Q. Hixson

Everyone should be on the lookout for scammers looking to steal their personal and financial information this tax season.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A new year means a new tax season, and unfortunately, another year for scammers to work on tricking people into giving up their personal and financial information.

Norton, an industry-leading anti-virus and security software company, is warning people of those committing identity theft around this time.

The company says scammers will try to use your personal information such as your social security number to file an income tax return and then steal your refund.

To avoid this crime, Norton says you should report the identity theft by filling out the 14309 IRS Form, or the Identity Theft Affidavit. In addition to this, reporting the theft to the Federal Trade Commission and all three credit bureaus will help to put out a fraud alert on your credit reports.

Checking your other accounts such as your bank and credit card will help in ensuring no fraudulent activity was done to those as well. 

Getting an identity protection personal identification number or “IP Pin,” is another tool Norton says can help prevent identity theft. The pin is six digits and when you file your return, you will provide it to the IRS helping the revenue service verify that it is actually you filing. You can set this pin up on the IRS’s website

LifeLock, Norton’s identity theft protection software, listed five different scams last year in addition to identity theft.

The other four include the gift card, refund recalculation, stimulus payment, and taxpayer advocate scams.

LifeLock says scammers will leave a voicemail with a call-back number claiming you owe federal taxes and are in danger of being charged with criminal activity. A penalty fee would then be issued and requested to be paid by sending gift cards from different stores. To avoid this, the software reminds you that the IRS will never call to contact you about the taxes you owe, instead, they’ll send a letter.

The refund recalculation scam is where scammers try to make even more money off taxpayers. Criminals will contact you through email or text claiming you still owe more money than first reported.

LifeLock says these emails may look official with the IRS’ logo. When you click their given link, you will be sent to a website that asks for your personal information such as your social security number, birthdate, driver’s license number, and more. Again, the IRS will not contact you by email or text, but by mail. 

The stimulus payment scam is similar to this as an email will be sent to you telling you to enter your personal information to receive a payment but only to really enter your private information to risk having your identity stolen.

Finally, the taxpayer advocate scam: scammers will actually call taxpayers and pretend they are calling from the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service Office. LifeLock says these scammers will ask people for their personal information again, to steal their identities. 

To protect yourself from this, remember that the IRS says agents do not contact taxpayers randomly. When a taxpayer reaches out, the agents from the revenue service will then contact them back.

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