NEW YORK CITY (WABC) — Tax season is here and that means tax-related scams are going to ramp up.
The Federal Trade Commission said consumer fraud is up, reaching close to 6 billion cases per year.
7 On Your Side’s Nina Pineda has the top seven tax scams and the ways to avoid them.
Filing with your social security number whether on paper or online for your taxes is like dangling a pot of gold right in front of a thief.
“Tax season is a huge opportunity (for scammers) to make money,” Hilary Donnell said.
Donnell is the Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and Public Affairs at Aura, a digital safety app offering paid plans to protect families from all sorts of streaming and strolling scams.
She warned about the uptick in identity theft when we file our taxes.
It usually begins with a phishing expedition.
An imposter masquerading as the IRS will send a text, email, or call asking for your personal information.
“They are going to threaten you and get you to act out of fear immediately,” Donnell.
If you get a call from someone claiming to be an IRS agent hang up and don’t click on any links sent from someone posing to be an agent.
A cyber scammer can quickly install malware and worm into your accounts with one click from you.
“They can steal whatever info you’re inputting,” Donnell said. “Credit cards, account logins, and passwords.”
The most common tax scam is when someone files a false return with your W-2.
Scammers hack into your W-2, file it as you and then hijack your refund check.
They get your money and you’re stuck dealing with the IRS to get it back.
“It’s a good time to file your taxes good and early and get your refund,” Debt relief attorney Leslie Tayne said.
Tayne said aside from getting in front of hackers, early filers have other financial benefits.
“With inflation and costs of goods, you need more cash in your pocket and is most helpful for spending and savings,” Tayne said.
Paying down debt could save hundreds in credit card interest. Also, consider depositing refund checks into a high yield savings account.
“Getting your money back and putting it into savings is a great way to increase income,” Tayne said.
Just make sure you don’t help the hackers increase their income
Tayne said some of her Long Island clients report con artists are using social media and masking phone numbers.
Never call back a number that calls you it’s not the IRS.
Also, if you’re asked to wire money, Cash App transfer or go buy gift cards to pay the IRS, it’s a scam.
If you get contacted by an imposter, report it to the IRS.
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