Tax fraud prevention tips
While there is no silver bullet for preventing tax ID fraud, you CAN take steps to reduce your risk of becoming a victim:
- File early. This will help decrease the chances that a fraudster will get your refund before you do. Consumers who put off filing their taxes until the deadline give scammers the maximum amount of time to run their scam.
- Safeguard your personal information. Taking steps to reduce the exposure of your personal information online is necessary any time of the year, but even more so during tax season since scammers will be trolling the Internet in search of personal information they can use to commit fraud.
- Beware of phishing calls and emails. Never give personal information over the phone. Neither the IRS nor the Department of Revenue will contact you via phone, email, or social media to ask for credit card numbers or other personal data. If you receive an email purporting to be from your bank, benefits administrator, IRS or even the police or FBI, do NOT click on any links or attachments. Phishing emails are designed to trick you into clicking on a link or attachment that installs malware on your computer to harvest personal information like passwords or other sensitive information that can use to file phony returns. Instead, look up the customer service telephone number for the organization to confirm that it’s legitimate.
- Always use a professional, trustworthy tax preparer.
If you do fall victim to tax ID fraud, report it promptly to the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490 and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484. They have programs in place to help you recover from these scams and help make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Working in Cooperation with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office
Whipple Center, 182 Green Street, North Weymouth, MA 02191, 781-335-0280, FAX 781-340-3991
Director, Consumer Action Center, MASSPIRG
Jeanne is the director of MASSPIRG's Consumer Action Center, working in cooperation with the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office to provide consumer information, assistance and referrals. Jeanne was part of a collaborative effort to author and publish CAR SMART: A Consumer's Guide to Buying, Leasing and Repairing a Car in Massachusetts. Jeanne lives on the South Shore of Massachusetts with her family, where she enjoys reading, cooking and being near the ocean.