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Tips for Protecting Yourself from Tax Scams

September 26, 2016

Protecting your financial information is always a top priority for us. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently reminded us that tax-related scams, even after tax season, are still pervasive. Two particular scams are on our radar – fake IRS phone calls and email phishing – and we want to be sure they’re on yours, too.

These unsolicited calls, automated messages or emails supposedly from the IRS purport to be notifying you of a bogus tax bill or refund. An email may even link to a website that looks real, but likely is not. The IRS offers these tips to help you identify potential fraudsters:

  • The IRS will always mail a bill first, not call you for immediate payment. You can question and confirm the bill with someone before paying it.

  • The IRS will not ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone. They will never demand that you pay a certain way (i.e., with prepaid debit card).

  • The IRS will not threaten to call the police or file a lawsuit against you.

  • If you receive an unsolicited email, do not click on the provided link as it could contain a virus. (You can forward the email to phishing@irs.gov, then delete it.)

 We believe you can never be too careful when it comes to protecting your financial information. Therefore, here are a few more guidelines to potentially avoid scams:

  • Never share any personal or financial information when contacted unexpectedly.

  • Question all unsolicited emails, before opening any contained links. Try hovering your mouse over a link (without clicking on it) to ensure it’s encrypted (often denoted with an https://).

  • Look for poor grammar and a lack of formatting. This can be a sign of a phony email.

  • If you are being told not to contact your lawyer, accountant or trusted advisor like LWP, it’s probably a scam.

  • If you’re being promised something outlandish, it probably is too good to be true.

False alerts and bogus claims are intended to take advantage of your desire to fix a problem as quickly as possible. If you’re prompted for information – for whatever reason – take a moment before you react. According to the IRS, you should always be afforded time to confirm a claim directly with someone before handing over sensitive information.

If you do receive any questionable communication, investigate further by doing an internet search for legitimate contact information before divulging anything. Should you have further questions, please feel free to contact us.

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