Red flags to look for amid tax scam season

Scammers steal identities, file fake claim for refunds

Red flags to look out for amid tax scam season

According to the Better Business Bureau, tax scams are still a problem this year.

If you haven’t filed your taxes yet this season, don’t put it off any longer! The IRS discovers cases of identity theft because personal information is stolen and a fake claim for a refund is filed. In those cases, when you go to file, someone else already has -- using your information.

“If someone claims to be from the IRS and says you need to pay right now, or someone’s going to come and arrest you -- that’s not going to happen,” said Laura Blankenship with the BBB.

Those scammers are pretending to be from the government -- but don’t fall for it. Be sure not to give them any personal information, and definitely don’t send them your money.

“The IRS is not going to contact you and give you those high pressure tactics,” Blankenship said. “So, take a step back, and then find out the actual information for the IRS and give them a call.”

Related: The art of filing taxes: What could go wrong?

If you’re hiring a tax preparer, be sure to do your research first.

“There are unfortunately people out there that they’re banking on the fact that you’re not going to look into them any further, especially if they look professional,” Blankenship said. “They give you a business card, where anyone can make business cards, anyone can also create an advertisement on social media.”

Another red flag to look out for: You may be the victim of a scam if you receive a notice from the IRS about a duplicate tax return, or if you receive IRS notices saying you received wages from a place you’ve never worked at.

If you’re suspicious at all that your identity has been stolen, contact the IRS.

“If the IRS contacts you, it will be by an official letter,” said Sarah Kull with the IRS’ special investigations unit. “Or if my investigators contact you, they will come to the door and they will show you their identification.”

More: Scams to watch out for

About the Author:

Hank Winchester is Local 4's Consumer Investigative Reporter and the head of WDIV's "Help Me Hank" Consumer Unit. He works to solve consumer complaints, reveal important recalls and track down thieves who have ripped off metro Detroiters.