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Tax Season is Here: 5 Scams to Avoid

Tax season is underway and fraudsters are attempting to con the unsuspecting. To protect your data, identity, and money, please be aware of the following scams.

Identity Theft Tax Refund Scam

When someone uses your identity to file a fraudulent tax refund and claim a refund, it’s an identity theft tax refund. The fraudster uses your personal information like name, Social Security number, or other identifying information without your permission. By filing the fraudulent tax return early in the tax season, the identity thief usually receives the refund before you send your tax return, and the IRS processes it.

WATCH OUT: Most identity theft happens via the trash! Make sure you shred all documents containing any personal information before you throw them away.

Tax Return Preparer Fraud

The vast majority of tax professionals are honest. But some dishonest preparers scam clients, perpetuating refund fraud, identity theft, and other scams that hurt taxpayers.

WATCH OUT: Be wary of unscrupulous tax return preparers. Make sure your tax preparer is legitimate. If you’re not sure what to look for, this Washington Post article offers some red flags to watch for.

Inflated Refund Claims

You should be wary of anyone promising you inflated refunds. If a tax preparer asks you to sign a blank return, promises you a big refund before looking at your records, or charges fees based on a percentage of your refund, they are probably up to no good.

WATCH OUT: Don’t fall for outrageously high promised tax returns. If it is too good to be true, then it probably is.

Phishing

Watch for phishing scams where scammers send you an email pretending to be Vantage West Credit Union and ask you to verify your personal information. It’s usually accompanied by some kind of threat (e.g., your account will be closed). We will never threaten you. Phishing scams may also ask you to click on a link that says the IRS sent it.

WATCH OUT: The IRS will never send you an email with a link or an email about a bill or tax refund. Don’t click on a message claiming to be from the IRS.

Phone Scams

Scammers who impersonate IRS agents are an ongoing threat. Some con artists who use this ploy have threatened taxpayers with deportation, arrest, and revocation of their licenses if they fail to follow the scammers’ instructions. The stakes usually sound high with a false sense of urgency.

WATCH OUT: The IRS will never ever call you, so just hang up on these fraudsters. The IRS communicates via physical mail.

As a general reminder, Vantage West Credit Union will occasionally call Members to verify questionable transactions. However, we will never ask for your confidential information, including online banking credentials, Social Security number, PIN, and/or date of birth. Hang up immediately if someone is asking you to provide this information. You should never provide any personal financial information unless you initiated the contact.

If you have any questions about fraud or questionable activities, please connect with us.

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