I write about tax scams a few times a year because there is never a stop to the warnings coming out about scammers using new tactics to try to frighten or bully people into paying money. Well here is the good news, I have nothing new to report on that front today!
But then, of course, the bad news …
These attempts by scammers never stop and I wanted to speak a little more about the use of email in these scams, for I am afraid that I may not focus on those enough. Yet, email remains the prime mode that most of the potential scams that come into our life.
I think I may not have given enough attention to this tactic because I find it so easy to ignore. For one, all large email providers have pretty good filters that put a lot of the potential bad emails into a spam or junk folder. I do recommend checking these folders periodically to see what has been placed in there (for occasionally ones you do want to see get shuttled there), but if you don’t recognize the sender, delete them all.
Another reason emails seem easier to ignore is because they are less personal. If you answer a phone call from someone actually voicing they are trying to collect on taxes, your emotions muddle the mind more than reading an email that says the same thing. You also have to react more immediately to that voice on the phone than words on a screen.
What can be most malicious about those emails, though, is the way they can linger even if you do delete them. This usually happens if you let them install something on your computer. So a big word of advice is never download anything from an unknown sender no matter what the email says it is. Beyond that, keep yourself extra safe by never even opening an email from an unknown sender if it contains attachments.
For remember, if the IRS really wants to get in contact with you, it is not going to start doing so via email. The agency sends notices by regular postal mail first. So I’m not saying that you’re never going to receive an email from the IRS in your life, but if you think you’re receiving news that way about a potential issue for that first time that’s asking you to pay money, don’t trust it.
Furthermore, even if these are legitimate issues, they are never issues that you have to handle by yourself. Even if you prepared your own taxes, that doesn’t mean that you can’t seek outside help from someone to understand the situation instead of only being fed information from those seeking to collect a debt from you. So if you’re not sure where you stand, at best this outside help can alert you to a potential scam. At worst, that help can help you mitigate whatever legitimate issues you are facing.
So when it comes to any potential scam, don’t be rash and remember that we are always here to help guide you through all tax matters, even those ones.
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