Scammers are busy trying to get at your money this tax season!
CPA Jamie Block discussed some of the top scams to look out for and avoid Monday during News 8 at Sunrise.
“You have to be very careful,” Block warned of scammers. “They get a lot more intelligent as time goes by. They get better and know what things to ask and so forth. So you have to be careful if someone says they’re from the IRS, you have a big, huge tax debt and we’re going to levy your assets or you’re going to be arrested, and they really prey on your fears of the IRS and get you to try to pay things that aren’t actually due.”
Block said scammers are looking for certain key personal information. “Typically they’re asking for your Social Security number, date of birth, all of your personal information or even a credit card, and lastly they’re asking for payments of some sort like using Apple gift cards and things of that nature. That’s not what the IRS does. They usually communicate by paper mail.”
Scammers will also hang out a shingle and offer fraudulent services preparing taxes. “The thing that’s really important to note is that if your preparer prepares your return incorrectly, you’re still liable for that tax and penalties and interest that are going to be due, so you want to make sure that you have a reputable tax preparer because they’re going to hopefully be there if you ever get audited or if there’s any problems with your tax return,” Block said. “You can actually go on the IRS website at treasury.irs.gov and actually search people that have practiced before the IRS. So, for example, anyone who does tax preparing for a fee has to be registered with the IRS and have what’s called a PTIN, and you can do a search in your area by attorneys, CPAs, enrolled agents and so forth to find who you’re looking for.”
Block said phishing scams continue to be a problem as well. “Unfortunately there are still people falling victim to it and you have to be very careful. If you recieve an email that says it’s from the IRS or even from your bank account, or anything that might require personal information, don’t click on those links if it looks suspicious. Even things that don’t look suspicious, if you hover over it and it says that it’s not irs.gov or it goes to some site that you’ve never heard of, don’t click on it. And if in doubt, don’t click on it!”
When in doubt, Block said consult a trusted CPA to avoid falling victim to a scam. For more “Smart Money” advice – visit the New York State Society of CPAs website at nysscpa.org/getmoneysmart.