Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Be aware of common tax collection scams

The Better Business Bureau is warning residents about common tax collection scams.

Consumers should be aware of unsolicited phone calls, emails or letters claiming to be from the IRS or other official-sounding government agencies.

In 2016, more than 7,500 reports came in of tax collection fraud

Among the common scams:

• Imposter scams where scammers pose as IRS agents and demand money or threaten jail time. According to the BBB, fraudsters spoof phone numbers so the call appears to be coming from the IRS or local law enforcement.

• Tax Relief Scams where deceptive ads claim to greatly reduce a person’s tax liability. Scammers use official-looking notices or websites.

• ID theft where scammers use stolen personal information, Social Security numbers and falsified W-2 information to file fraudulent tax returns in the victim’s name. In some cases, thieves stole W-2’s out of unsecured mailboxes.

Consumers can protect themselves by doing the following:

• Electronically file only from secure computers with up-to-date anti-virus software and private Wi-Fi.

• Avoid filing taxes from a link in an email.

• Mail through the post office or a secure mailbox.

• Shred information that’s more than seven years old.

• Check personal credit reports annually to ensure there are no unauthorized accounts in your name.