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Tax Season Scams: Watch Out For These As Tax Day Approaches

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  • Staff Report 

As tax season rolls in, so do the scammers, aiming to swindle you out of your money or personal details. Amy Nofziger of the AARP Fraud Watch Network warns taxpayers to watch for red flags. With 294,138 identity theft complaints to the IRS in 2023 alone, it’s clear that vigilance is key.

Know the Scammers’ Playbook

Scammers deploy fear, urgency, and the allure of money to trick their targets. They may pretend there’s an error with your tax return, urging immediate action, or dangle the promise of a larger refund to snatch your personal info. Remember, under pressure, it’s easy to slip up and give away sensitive details.

Is the IRS Really Calling?

Always question the authenticity of someone claiming to be from the IRS, especially if they reach out through phone or email. The IRS typically communicates via snail mail. If you’re ever in doubt, verify by contacting the IRS directly through their official channels.

Choosing the Right Tax Help

With the proliferation of “low-cost” tax preparers, doing your homework is vital to avoid impostors. Reputable directories like the IRS’s own or the AARP Foundation tax-aid locator are safe bets for finding legitimate assistance.

Phone Safety: To Pick Up or Not?

If an unknown number calls, think twice before sharing information. It’s safer to hang up and call back using a verified number. This simple step can prevent scammers from catching you off guard.

Tech to the Rescue

Filing taxes early can thwart identity thieves, but if that’s not feasible, leverage technology for added security. Utilize the IRS’s identity protection PIN, employ a password manager, and ensure your computer is virus-free before filing online. Regularly monitoring your credit report can also alert you to any unauthorized activity.

Sharing is Caring

Protecting yourself is just the start. Sharing these tips with friends and family, especially those who might be less tech-savvy, can help create a community shield against fraudsters.

Vigilance Beyond April

Remember, scam attempts don’t end with tax season. Stay alert for refund-related schemes and other financial frauds throughout the year. Sharing knowledge and staying informed are your best defenses against these ever-present threats.

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