Identity Force issued a Tax Season Fraud Alert warning consumers about tax-related scams that can lead to identity theft. With the April 15th income tax filing deadline only two weeks away consumers should be prepared for a wave of e-mail and phone calls from con-artists and overseas fraudsters.
In the past year the IRS has received notification of over 1,500 different scams, and is investigating over 33,000 different suspicious e-mails forwarded by consumers who were targeted by fraudsters.
Current scams to be on alert for:
Economic stimulus scams
E-mail messages or phone calls from fraudsters claiming to be IRS representatives who ask for personal information such as Social Security Numbers in order to process the recently-announced economic stimulus payment. In reality this is an attempt to trick unsuspecting victims into revealing information that can be used to steal the victims’ identity.
Phony tax preparer scams
E-Mails or phone calls from individuals posing as tax preparers claiming to have the ability to significantly increase or expedite tax refunds, or lower taxes due to the government. Only trust tax preparers who can independently prove their identity and qualifications. Consumers should verify their information with personal, local references, the Better Business Bureau and other agencies before working with any tax preparer.
Phony tax refund scams
E-mails or phone calls from fraudsters posing as IRS agents supposedly verifying personal information such as Social Security Numbers, addresses and places of employment in order to process tax refunds.
Phony tax investigation scams
E-Mails and phone calls from individuals claiming to be IRS investigators working to clear up errors with tax returns. The object of these calls is to secure confidential information by invoking the threat of audits and penalties.
Identity theft and fraud is one of the most prevalent crimes in the nation. According to Javelin Strategy & Research’s latest national survey, 8.1 million Americans were fraud victims in 2007, with losses of approximately $45 billion. The Federal Trade Commission also reported on February 13, 2008 that for the seventh year in a row, identity theft is the number one consumer complaint.