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, could be notifying you of a bogus tax bill or refund, or 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, and will not 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, then delete it.)
We believe you can never be too careful when it comes to protecting your information privacy. Here are a few more suggestions for thinking ahead of potential 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 to ensure it’s encrypted (often denoted with an https://).
- Phony emails may be characterized by poor grammar and a lack of formatting.
- Are you being told not to contact your lawyer, accountant or another third party? It’s probably a scam.
- If you’re being promised something outlandish, it probably is too good to be true.
The false alerts and bogus claims are intended to take advantage of our 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 a questionable communication, investigate further by doing an internet search for legitimate contact information before divulging anything.