ASHLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) — Tuesday was Day 2 of tax filing season and that means scammers are out in force, working the phone lines, trying to get your personal data and your refund.
As WSAZ has already reported, it’s such a concern that Congress has pushed back the refunds until late February for more than 40 million families to give the IRS more time to verify data.
Jim and Julia Porter are getting their taxes done early this year.
“I think they’re complicated enough that for a novice like me to try to do them, I’d get myself in trouble,” Jim said.
When it comes to scams, he’s got a few worries.
“Oh yeah, you got to be concerned,” he adds.
And perhaps his worry comes with good reason.
Mary Sparks, franchise owner of Liberty Tax in Ashland, said IRS scams are rampant this time of year. Her office has been getting calls daily from folks targeted by a scammer.
“They do make it seem believable, Sparks said. “A lot of our clients will call. You can tell they are upset.”
Journalists aren’t immune. Just last week, WSAZ’s Dan Klein got a voicemail supposedly from the FBI which said, in an automated voice, “Your physical address is under investigation and an arrest warrant has been issued.”
So, protect yourself.
Boyd County Sheriff Bobby Jack Woods said if someone calls you, that’s a red flag.
Boyd County was the target of some IRS scammers in the last several months. Some that even made it look like the calls were coming from the sheriff’s office.
Woods says they focus on two groups — those 65 and up and professionals like doctors and lawyers. They tend to have more money and are more likely to follow rules.
“Anytime somebody calls you and asks you for anything that identifies you such as Social Security number, credit card number, checking account number, be sure to call the local sheriff’s office or your local police before you give them any information because nobody legitimately is going to call you and ask you for that,” Woods said. “Just be vigilant. There’s always somebody out there lurking behind the tree that wants to jump out and get you.”
“The IRS is never going to call you,” Sparks said. “They’re never going to send you a text. They’re never going to send you an email.”
The Porters are looking forward to getting done.
Jim promises if a scammer calls, “what I’d do, hang up.”
Here’s a list of tips:
- Remember, the IRS will never call demanding immediate payment
- They will never require you to pay using a credit or prepaid debit card
- They will never ask for those numbers over the phone
- They will never threaten to bring in police or other law enforcement agencies to arrest you if you don’t pay
- If you are an immigrant, they will not threaten to deport you
- They also won’t email asking for personal information
- Don’t be fooled, sometimes scammers will call victims back pretending to be police or the DMV to make their scam seem more believable
- File early. It gives scammers less time to file a tax return in your name
- Consider e-filing
- Monitor your refund on the IRS website or through the IRS smartphone app
Sparks adds one additional vulnerable group is kids under the age of 18, so parents also need to protect them as well. She advises paying for ID protection.
“The greater concern we have is for identity theft as a whole, because not only does it affect your tax returns, your federal and your state, it affects you in every aspect of your life,” she said.