MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Tax season is underway. While many people are preparing to file, one thing they might not be accounting for are scammers that could be attempting to steal their next victim’s refund. This is the time of year scammers are out in full-force targeting the vulnerable.
Tax professionals say scammers are constantly finding new ways to steal your money. Now they say you should watch out for IRS scam letters in the mail. At first look, it may seem legit. The letter asks for money, but with the wrong information.
“It very much looks like an IRS letter, an audit letter, but it’s not. There’s information on it that’s not correct. The address isn’t correct, the reference to the IRS - how they even word it - is not correct," said Samantha Slapnik, Owner of Liberty Tax Service.
Local tax experts say you really should be suspicious of any letter you receive from the IRS and always consult your tax professional. The Federal Trade Commission says tax fraud is the second most common type of identity theft. Tax experts say the most common scams come by phone and e-mail. But remember this: the IRS says it will never call or email you to ask for immediate payment or personal information. If you’re filing electronically online, make sure your internet connection is secure. But if you really want to stop criminals from stealing your tax refund, beat them to it.
“If you think your information is at risk, file sooner than later, because that just limits the time that someone else would file on your behalf,” said Slapnik.
Slapnik says she talks with frightened clients who have received phone calls from someone who claims to be with the IRS demanding payment. She says if you receive one of these types of calls, don’t fall for it, just hang up.
“They should be careful, protective of that social security number , no matter where they are, what they’re doing. They should never give it out, never confirm anything, " said Slapnik.
There’s also e-mail scammers claiming to be the IRS, sending links asking for personal information. Slapnik says those who’ve had identity theft issues in the past can receive an Identity Protection PIN through the IRS assigned every year to help protect yourself. She says it also helps to have a qualified, professional tax preparer.
“I think one of the biggest things is once you find someone that you trust, you should make sure they’re qualified," said Slapnik.
Experts say anyone is at risk of these scams. If you think your information has been at risk from one of these scams, you should immediately file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, contact your local police department and report it to the IRS.