Central New Yorkers are starting start to gather their financial information and receive W-2 forms for tax season. The time is also ripe for scam artists preparing their schemes.
(Listen a little later this month for WAER's Tax Tips on air and online)
New York region IRS spokesperson Peggy Riley says this is the time when people are most likely to fall victim to sometimes legitimate sounding hoaxes.
"This year we did see predominantly the telephone scams popping up again. They’re threatening people that if they don’t pay with a pre-paid debit card right away, they’re threatening people with arrest or taking away their license or with deportation. In some cases, like if the taxpayer doesn’t comply with them, they’ll have someone else call back and pretend to be the registry of motor vehicles or the police department or even immigration."
Sometimes scammers use school records or hospital records to convince their targets that they are in fact the I-R-S. Riley warns that it’s easy for anyone to fall victim to phishing.
“Sometimes the elderly are more likely to fall for some of these telephone scams because they think, ‘maybe I should comply with them so these other things don’t happen.’ On the e-mail scams, it can be anybody. It looks really legitimate, so if people are desperately wanting to get more of a refund they may fall for it.”
Riley emphasizes the I-R-S never solicits personal information by e-mail or phone. But she continues to see aggressive and creative tactics to fool someone out of money or into identity theft.
“Unfortunately thousands of people have fallen prey to these scams over the past few years. Some of these scams look really legitimate. On the e-mails if you do click on the link, it sends you to a web site that looks like IRS. And again, IRS is not going to contact you by e-mail and ask you for personal information.”
People should also be aware of tax preparers, avoiding claims that sound too good to be true, or signing a blank tax return. More information on finding a tax professional and avoiding scams is at the website: IRS.gov