How to Protect Yourself from Scams this Tax Season

We are in tax time. In the United States, we are all required to submit our tax returns by Monday, April 18. The US tax system is complex and quite different from many places in Latin America. Therefore, when we have just arrived here, filing our taxes can be confusing and even intimidating. Therefore, it is advisable to have the help of a professional accountant to help us avoid problems and scams in tax season. An accountant to help you receive a fair refund if we have overpaid.

Reimbursement is not the only thing we should consider. In these times the scammers who take advantage of a possible neglect of one to steal the information from us also lurk. With this information, you can submit a false tax return to our name. They do this with the aim of claiming a “refund” from the tax authorities. This criminal modality is called Tax-related Identity Theft, or “Tax-related Identity Theft” in English.

The latest figures available show that between 2011 and 2014, the Internal Revenue Service of the United States ( IRS for its acronym in English: Internal Revenue Service ) has detected more than 19 million tax returns suspicious. Which would have lost about $ 63 billion to the treasury. A fraudulent tax return with our name on it can get us into serious trouble. From fines to the loss of our freedom. Therefore it is essential to know how to prevent it, detect it and know how to act in time if we discover what has happened to us.

What are scams in tax season?

Scams begin with identity theft. This occurs when someone uses the name and social security number of another person to file a tax return with the tax authorities ( federal, state or local ). In which a refund of tax money is fraudulently claimed.

Today, the most common way to find out if someone stole our information to file false taxes occurs at the time of filing our return electronically ( E-Filing ). The system will immediately tell us that the authorities have already received a statement with their data. Other times, the IRS can send you a letter. In which they explain that they have identified suspicious elements in a statement received in which their name appears.


How do we prevent scams in tax season?

Preventing scams in tax season is not always possible. However, there are some steps you can take to control the use of your information a bit.

Always use a computer with virus protection programs.

When you have to create passwords, passwords or passwords, make sure they are not too obvious or easy to deduce.

Learn to recognize phishing. These are e-mails that ask for information. Many times posing as your bank, your credit company or the IRS itself. If you receive e-mails from unknown senders, it is preferable not to download the attached files.

Learn to detect texts or phone calls in which they want you to provide personal data for doubtful purposes.

Keep your social security card at home in a safe place. Never in the wallet, purse, bag or backpack.

Always remember that the IRS never contacts taxpayers asking for personal or financial data electronically. Not by e-mail, or text messages, or social networks like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

You have to be very attentive

The signs of tax season scams that should alert us immediately are:

  • If the IRS tells you in the correct ways that they have received more than one tax return using their SSN.
  • Or if they inform you that you owe additional taxes, or that your reimbursement has been applied to past debts, or that the IRS will take corrective action for a year in which you did not file a return (very common among immigrants).
  • If the IRS records show wages or payments from employers for whom you have never worked.
  • I suspect someone stole my identity for taxes, what do I do?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC for its acronym in English: Federal Trade Commission ) recommends following these steps:

  • File a complaint with the FTC on your website
  • Contact one of the three major credit companies to put your credit information on alert for fraud: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
  • Contact your financial institutions such as the bank or credit card company (Visa, American Express, Mastercard). Close any open account without your permission or manipulated by criminals.
  • Additionally, the IRS suggests you take the following measures:
  • Respond immediately to all IRS notifications, either in writing or by telephone. If you find it more comfortable, do it with the help of your accountant.
  • Complete IRS Form 14039. If you are not allowed to submit your return electronically (e-file) due to a duplicate via e-file. Print the form and mail it following the instructions.
  • Continue to pay your taxes, even if it is necessary to do so by traditional means. That is, printing the forms and sending them by conventional mail.
  • If you have already done all this and have not received a favorable response, call 1-800-908-4490. The IRS has a team properly prepared to assist you.
  • Fraud and tax season scams are serious problems. If you have been harmed by identity theft and have suffered material losses, charges for things you did not buy or request, or legal problems related to the unauthorized use of your information, a lawyer may be able to help you.