Last week, the IRS released its annual list of the “Dirty Dozen” tax scams for the year. If you had not noticed, the last year was a little wacky, so it should not be a surprise to know that some new things have popped up on this list.
With the three rounds of economic impact payments that went out over the pandemic came ways for scammers to try to take advantage of people because of them. One of the things that I found most interesting in the IRS’s mentioning of such things was straight-up theft of mail from people’s mailboxes. So much of what we think about with scams involves using technology to nefarious advantage, but some of those on-the-ground tactics can still be effective.
The agency also, though, gives blanket statements that any text messages, phone calls, or emails inquiring about any personal information related to these payments (bank account numbers, social security numbers, etc.) should be considered suspicious. This is a good reminder that the first contact you have with the IRS concerning any issue will almost always come through the regular mail first (as long as no one steals it apparently). So, if you are surprised by a call or email concerning a tax issue, chances are good that it is not legitimate.
The last year has also been a time when many have been more generous with giving to charity as the news (and our lives) showed us many people who needed assistance. Also included on the IRS’s list, though, is the presence of fake charities. Interestingly, it notes that these fake actors do most of their action over the phone where the pressure to give feels more immediate and can prevent you from doing a little research that would show you that it was not legitimate.
Because what happens in many of these schemes is that a scammer has a little bit of information on you that gives them an air of legitimacy that can then push you to do something you should not have. To that end then, I want to mention something that we have seen that is not necessarily a scam, but uses some of the same tactics.
This started because the information on who received PPP loans is publicly available. Potential loan offers are now going out saying that someone could be eligible for even more financing. And sure, this may well be true, but it is not related to the PPP loan in any way and is not part of the same program where loan amounts were forgiven if used for certain purposes. So again, as with all these cases, take the time needed to understand the situation you are in, then take measured acts. You always deserve to act with the comfort of knowledge in any financial situation.
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