Friday, March 14, 2014

It's Tax Time, And It's Also PHONE SCAM Time

IRS tax scam warnings

Hey my faithful readers, um, all five of you... since most of you, whether you follow this site or get my email subscription, I know that you're all pretty smart folk, so I doubt I need to say this, but for the happenstance wayward web surfer who lands upon this post/page, well, I would be remiss if I did not toss out a warning about the phone scams going on.

PHONE SCAMS


Phone scams are the quickest way to get tricked by evildoers.

They call claiming to be the IRS and one of the issues they'll toss out is that you owe money.  They'll go so far as to threaten legal actions like arrest, license suspension, deportation and other seriously scary threats that are designed to prompt you to panic and take immediate and unthoughtful actionsThis is where you stay calm, very Jedi-like, and say to yourself, hey, I think Bruce's Consumer Bits mentioned something like this.

That's the trick... the emotional impact of the IRS making legal threats.

The well organized phone scam will have a second call come in to you claiming to be local law enforcement.

Or, on the other end of the emotional spectrum, is that call saying they have a huge refund waiting for you.  But first, all they need is pretty much all your financial information like ssn, bank account #'s, etc..

How To Beat These Phone Scams:


No matter how scared or how exciting a phone call can be, ask the person for their name and office location. NOT THEIR PHONE number.  Tell them you'll call them right back.


Many times when you start saying you'll call them right back, they tend to hang up.

If they went through the entire routine without bailing on the call, then, call the IRS at their standard contact # of 800-829-1040 and find out what's up. 

If you learn or think that you just received a phone scam, then you can do your part and report the incident to the IRS hotline at 800-366-4484.

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EMAIL SCAM


Like the phone scam, you could get an email from "the IRS" that via one threat or promise, needs you to follow a (Evil, Fake) link or reply to the email with your pertinent financial information.

How to Beat the Email Scam:


This goes for many email scams, but in this case, the IRS never initiates email communications to request your information.

In other kinds of email scams that might look like an official notice from a bank, credit card or other financial org, don't buy into it.  Be smart and confirm this email you just received.

Close the email, go to your bank's website BY NOT USING ANY LINK in the offending email, and sign in.  Look for their messages notifications to see if they really did send you something.

Or better yet, look up the bank's number and give them a call.

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Use real tax preparers and don't bite the bait for ads or offers to use a tax preparer that promises huge, fanciful refunds.  Yes, I know Turbo Tax sort of spams you with "biggest refund possible" titles, but at least Turbo Tax is a known entity just practicing silly marketing ploys.  And it's a nice process that does help with the process.  If you've used them once, they are pretty smart about your settings, preferences and what not the following year.

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But I digress...

Beware of scams and scum.  Almost every offer or threat you get by phone or email can be verified by asking the person what office, branch or division or what not that they're from, then use the official phone number you have for that organization to call back to verify or catch the scoundrels in the act.

Be careful,  but then again, my readers are pretty sharp, so I'm not too worried.

But if you know anyone who might benefit from this advice, please share or forward for them to at least ponder the situation.

And at this point, once you've led the horse to water, it's up to them to take a swig!

-bruce

Resources:
IRS Phone Scam Warning (worth the once over for additional details)
IRS Tax Scams (again, worth a once over.)


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Hi - sorry for the confirmation but I need to weed out the noise from the well intended comments. Thanks for leaving a note... - Bruce