Threatening Phone Calls from the “IRS”
You get a phone call and the person on the other end says that they’re from the IRS. They claim that you owe taxes and if you don’t pay immediately, they’ll send the county sheriff to arrest you. If you agree to pay them, they instruct you to go and buy something strange like iTunes gift cards. The scammers are trying to get the money as quickly as possible, so they take those codes over the phone.
The IRS will never contact you by phone. You receive notifications in the mail if you owe taxes. Scammers won’t use the US mail service to try to appear more legitimate, as it takes too long for them to get money. If the IRS is dealing with criminal tax evasion or fraud, it has its own enforcement team. The agency can also call upon federal marshals. The IRS doesn’t have deals with the local sheriff or police department. Hang up the phone and call the authorities to report this scam attempt.
Another variation on this scam happens to people of Hispanic descent. The criminals speak in Spanish and claim that the person is using a fake social security number due to illegally being here in the country. They extort “hush money” out of people.
The criminal will impersonate the company’s CEO or an external partner that works with your company. They email or call someone in HR and request employees’ W2 information. Workers fall prey to this scam because they’re busy trying to get their job done. Call your boss directly or go to their office to confirm the request.
Other Work Scams
You work for a company that has a corporate office and other locations, such as a restaurant. Someone calls and identifies themselves as being from the corporate office. They claim they’re doing an audit and that the other manager appears to be embezzling money. They know both managers’ names. Their request is for the day’s receipts to be transferred into their account. They’ve done their homework by physically casing the location, using social media to find out names, and figuring out the best time to strike.
Taking Advantage of Electronic Filing
87 percent of people use electronic filing for their taxes. They enjoy the convenience but it leaves a lot of room for scammers to take advantage of the system. Someone can hack into the tax preparation system and falsify your returns. If you have your refund going directly to your bank account, you get a call. They say that the money was inadvertently sent to you and provide the exact amount it will be. You’re instructed to send the money back or they’ll send the police after you for fraud.
Hang up and report the scammer to the police. Since the criminal filed a return in your name, you’re going to have to jump through hoops to submit your actual tax information. Don’t touch the money that is in your account. The IRS will want that back during this process. It can take a long time to get this scam cleared up, as the IRS requires you to do a lot of the heavy lifting yourself. In some cases, you may need to resort to an attorney who’s specialized in IRS matters.
Practice Safe Computing
Keeping your computer safe and secure is an important part of protecting yourself from these tax scams. Use anti-malware software and firewalls as the first line of defense. If you’re on public WiFi, don’t do anything critical that involves money, your bank account or social security numbers. In the office, business IT in Salinas can help you harden the network.