Tax season is just a week away.
The IRS starts accepting and processing 2020 tax year returns February 12.
As criminals are very good at exploiting vulnerabilities, authorities want you to look out for scams, especially during the stress of the pandemic.
“The earlier you get your return in, the less likely you’ll be a victim,” said Joleen Simpson, an assistant special agent is in charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation Boston field office which polices potential criminal violations throughout New England.
She said getting your filing done ASAP prevents someone from using your stolen information to file and finagle a refund in your name.
“Many taxpayers won’t know this is happening to them until they go to file their own return electronically and it gets rejected," she explained.
That’s why protecting your personal information is so important.
Simpson said always use a secure browser when shopping or entering your social security number online.
Next up: beware of what Simpson calls “unscrupulous” tax preparers.
“Many times the tax payers are unaware that items were put on that return to obtain a larger refund,” she said.
Simpson said research the preparer, make sure you review your return with them, and get a copy of what’s filed.
“You do sign that you do understand what’s on that return. You're responsible of what’s on that return as a taxpayer,” she said.
And then there’s the IRS impersonation scam: phone calls claiming you have an overdue tax bill and you need to pay up or you’ll face jail time or deportation.
“They can be very aggressive. Recently we’ve even seen people impersonating IRS officers, going out and knocking on doors.”
Simpson said the IRS will never demand immediate payment over the phone, so if you think you may owe, hang up and call the IRS directly.
“We may show up at your door unannounced, but all IRS agents have appropriate credentials and identification and they will display them for the taxpayers inspection.”
If you have any questions or concerns about a call or email you received, you can email the IRS Boston office directly at email@example.com.
And, you can get more information on how to report a scam at IRS.gov.