IRS warns of scams locally amid tax season
TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) -It’s tax season and with that comes lots of scams. The IRS just released its annual Dirty Dozen list of scams and schemes that put taxpayers at risk.
Brian Ledbetter with GuidePoint Security said some new tactics are being used this year to take advantage of people of all ages.
“What we’ve been seeing with scammers and their tactics is they tend to create phishing emails, text messages, and make social media posts to try to convince taxpayers to try to release their personal information,” said Ledbetter.
Ledbetter described the messages that people might receive. He said they might be an urgent message from someone you may or may not know on your phone or computer asking you to click on a link, transfer money or perform a specific task.
“10 years ago for example with a phishing email, they used to be easy to spot because they had tons of spelling errors and grammatical errors. That’s all gone away with Chat GPT,” said Ledbetter. “Now they can input what they want into the chatbot and the bot can output what they desire, and that will be free of grammatical and spelling errors.”
If you think, “that won’t happen to me,” Special Agent with the IRS Brian Watson said they say scams in Tucson happen every day.
“The biggest scam we’re seeing is fake businesses on someone’s tax return. You get a bigger refund, the tax preparer is happy, and the taxpayer is happy but you as the taxpayer are responsible for everything you see on that return,” said Watson. “We actually conduct investigations, we go out and talk to taxpayers, we show them a copy of the tax return and show them a business they don’t even recognize and they’re like ‘I never looked at it,’ the tax preparer didn’t show me.”
Even if you’ve already filed your taxes, be careful! Don’t be afraid to ask questions and look at tax returns line-by-line.
“The IRS has a policy, they will never solicit information from you via email, via text message, or via social media post,” said Ledbetter.
Watson added, “If you’re ever in doubt, don’t open that email, don’t respond to that email, don’t click on any links. Take your time, run it by someone else. Do you think this is legitimate? Ask someone else, and when in doubt contact the bank directly or IRS directly,” said Watson. “You should never be in a rush to contact someone about your personal information or your finances.”
If you or someone you know has been a victim of cybercrime, report it.
The FBI has a website dedicated to reporting claims called the Internet Crime Complaint Center. You can find that website here.
For most Americans, the deadline to file federal tax returns is Tuesday, April 18.
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