Must Know Tips to Avoid Tax Scams
As the month of April comes, many will once again be fooled. It’s good if it is only done by a prankster because of April Fools’ Day, but there may be some who may fall prey to some more serious hoaxes. Always be cautious because different forms of hoaxes and frauds are seen in April as this is the month where we file our tax refunds.
Tax fraud is not new anymore. It can happen to anybody even to the most cautious individuals. Being caught in a tax scam can be a painful experience for anybody. But to someone younger, it can be an experience to learn from. It should be a lesson to be more cautious in the next years. But to a senior citizen, losing money to scams is deeply regrettable as there may be no possibility to recover from the loss.
While anybody can be scammed, seniors must be the most vulnerable sectors of society when it comes to tax frauds. This is because aging may cause the human brain to miss cues that someone is dishonest. Seniors may also falsely remember misinformation as correct, according to a study. All these make seniors more vulnerable to any kind of scam.
When seniors live alone, the more that they may fall victim to scams. It is important that their children should be there to guide or remind them of the following tips. These will surely help prevent older adults from being victims of fraudulent activities.
The IRS Do Not Contact You Through the Phone
Many have already been scammed by impostors pretending that they are working with the Internal Revenue Service. They use the phone to demand valuable information, like your credit card number. You will be subjected to threats like being arrested by the police, penalties, deportation, etc. if you do not cooperate. If you receive such a call, you should know immediately that you are being called by a fraudster. All that you should do is to hang up and never entertain such calls once again.
The Internal Revenue Service never uses the phone to call the attention of a taxpayer. You should always bear that in mind. The IRS issues notice only through e-mail or mail. They will never ask you to pay your tax using your debit card, money transfer, or any other method. You will never be asked also about your credit card number. So once you receive a call saying he is from the IRS, you know that it is already a ploy.
Mailing Tax Returns Early Prevents Tax Frauds
Being an early bird by mailing your tax return early has many advantages. You will be free from last-minute filing stress and you may be able to protect your refund from tax thieves. Accordingly, tax scammers tried to embezzle S12.2 billion in tax refunds in 2016. Although the scammers were only successful in stealing $1.6 billion, the probability of losing your tax refund is still there.
One way to avoid this is to mail your tax refund as early as possible. This means that you can be paid before a tax thief can file another tax refund for you. Filing your tax returns early will assure you that you will also be paid early. When the scammer filed earlier, he may get your refund. After filing your refund, follow it up by checking at gov/refunds.
Not Being Cautious With Personal Information Can Result in Identity Theft
Identity theft may result from not being so careful about your personal information. When a scammer is able to access important data about you, he can file a tax refund as if you were the one who filed it. One way to protect your information is to have a strong password in all your accounts. If you are using your dog’s name, never mentioned it on your Facebook or other social media accounts. Be innovative and avoid using birthdays or whatsoever that a scammer can easily guess.
One way a scammer can get your personal information is through emails. Don’t click on questionable emails that tend to look like official communications from the IRS. Disregard them and don’t be swayed to answer them. If you are not sure that the email is from the IRS, better call the IRS hotline instead of answering the email. Scammers can be very convincing that you may end up giving your personal information later.
Seniors can avail of the Tax Counseling for Seniors Program, which provides free assistance to those aging 60 and above. A senior may be able to know more from IRS-certified agents everything about taxes which may include ways on how to prevent scams. Better still, contact your children for help.