Identity theft is nothing new. Stealing someone’s mail, fraudulently opening a credit card account, and impersonating someone else using their Social Security number are all common run-of-the-mill tactics.
Also common is tax-related identity theft. This is usually discovered when someone attempts to file their tax return only to have their return rejected due to someone else filing first. Ways to avoid this? Check your credit annually at a minimum, and don’t let your mail sit in your mailbox for any longer than you need to.
One of the more recent types of scams to take center stage has been telephone scams. This usually presents as someone calling from the IRS in an attempt to rip you off for your money or information.
There are multiple other methods of tax fraud used as well. Here are just a few:
- Phishing – This is when someone poses as the IRS sending you an email demanding some sort of action. This one is easy to spot, as the IRS never sends emails. If you get one of these, delete them immediately.
- Tax Preparer Fraud – Beware of tax preparers over-promising on your return. If these offers seem too good to be true, they usually are. Always remember, you are ultimately responsible for your own tax return, so exposing yourself to these schemes puts you at risk.
- False Forms – This scam is one that you would commit yourself. It is claiming deductions or credits you are not entitled to claim. This is plain and simple fraud. It can land you in a heap of trouble, and in some cases jail.
- Fudging Retirement Accounts – Whether it is misreporting contributions or withdrawals, trying to get ahead by altering your retirement information is fraud. The IRS is always watching for this scam.
- Unconstitutional Claim – This one may sound silly, but every year there are those who claim that they don’t feel taxes are constitutional and do not pay them on those grounds. The reality is, whether or not you agree with taxes, if you don’t pay them you are liable and will likely be punished severely.
Bottom line, in today’s world you are always at risk for fraud, especially related to your taxes. But there is much you can do to protect yourself using common sense and honesty.