When it comes time to file taxes, that means it’s also time for something else – Super Bowl snacks! So here is to hoping you are using this weekend as an excuse to eat a treat you probably shouldn’t.
It is also time, however, to make mention of how one should be a little more wary of scams than usual. When people’s minds are a little more tuned in to the idea of taxes than usual, scammers can use that to try to take advantage of us a little more than usual. So here are a few things to keep in mind to try to protect yourself.
Even though not directly related to taxes, I recently have had a couple text messages pass my screen saying there are problems with accounts that I don’t even have. And this comes with a ‘friendly’ link to a webpage where you can fix this. Now with this coming from an institution I have no relationship with, it Is quite a bit easier to ignore and realize it is a phishing scam trying to collect information from me. It will be much easier to click, however, if it comes from an institution you recognize. This still teaches the right lessons on how to deal when scammers reach out, though.
First, if you have any reason to suspect something is not genuine, treat it as if it’s not genuine. Whether this be a text or email with a link or an actual phone call, you can halt the interaction and contact or access the institution by yourself. This way, you will know you are on a real website or talking to an actual employee. And if there is an actual issue, you can actually deal with it.
Next, be aware of what people are actually asking for. As soon as it feels like they are asking for personal information they should not need (like why does someone on the phone need the expiration date and three-digit code from your credit card?), let that trickle of unease burn brighter and remove yourself from the interaction.
This can be difficult as scammers are good at easing you into giving some more innocuous information before asking for the more crucial pieces. There are lots of little tip-offs to be aware of, however, such as: calling from a blocked number; demanding payment through prepaid cards or wire transfers; threatening to bring in law enforcement; or even saying you are to receive money of which you are unaware of.
A lot of these things are not necessarily new tactics, but scammers evolve new ways (like those text messages) to get in touch with you. So in this time when scammer activity is only bound to increase, remain vigilant and listen to those voices that tell you something if wrong. Those things are your friends.
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To ensure we don't make the folks at the IRS ornery, we inform you that any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein.