How to Avoid Tax Scams This Season

March 1, 2024by TNTMAX

Tax season can be a stressful time for many, with the added concern of falling victim to tax scams only amplifying anxiety. Whether it’s through phishing emails, phone calls, or text messages, these scams can lead to identity theft, financial loss, and other detrimental consequences.

As tax season continues, it’s crucial to stay aware and implement preventive measures to keep your personal and financial information safe. Here are some key tips to help you avoid tax scams, according to the New Jersey Cybersecurity & Communications Integration Cell. 

File Early

One of the most effective ways to avoid tax scams is by filing your taxes as early as possible. By doing so, you reduce the window of opportunity for threat actors to file fraudulent tax returns using your information. Remember, the first tax return filed is typically the one that gets accepted.

Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Adding an extra layer of security to your tax accounts through multi-factor authentication can significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access. In 2021, The IRS and its Security Summit partners have introduced MFA for all online tax preparation products to enhance protection for taxpayers and tax professionals alike.

Use an Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN)

Consider obtaining an Identity Protection PIN from the IRS before filing your return. This six-digit number, in addition to your Social Security number, acts as a unique identifier and helps verify your identity. Once acquired, you’ll need to provide the IP PIN every time you file your tax return, offering an added layer of security against identity theft.

Stay Alert for Signs of Identity Theft

Be vigilant for any signs indicating that your identity may have been compromised. If you receive notices from the IRS about duplicate tax returns, unreported wages, or additional taxes owed for a year you didn’t file a return, it could be a red flag for identity theft. Quickly report any suspicious activity to the IRS and take appropriate action to mitigate potential damage.

Beware of IRS Impersonation Scams

The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers via phone, email, or text message to solicit personal or financial information. So, be wary of unsolicited communications claiming to be from the IRS, especially if they involve threats of legal action or promises of tax refunds. Avoid clicking on links or providing sensitive information unless you can verify the authenticity of the request through alternate channels.

Verify Tax Preparers’ Credentials

If you enlist the services of a tax preparer, ensure they are qualified and trustworthy. Check if they have an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) and inquire about their credentials and references. Avoid tax preparers who engage in suspicious practices such as charging fees based on a percentage of your refund or promising inflated refunds without proper assessment of your financial situation.

Review and Secure Your Information

Regularly review your tax returns and financial accounts for any unauthorized activity. Safeguard sensitive information, such as your Social Security number and account credentials, by using unique and complex passwords for all accounts. Refrain from sharing this information with anyone and avoid saving it on vulnerable platforms.

Remember, staying informed and adopting best practices is the key to staying safe in an increasingly online world, especially during tax season. Stay alert, stay protected and don’t let tax scams take advantage of you.