Contributed by: Nick Defenthaler, CFP®
Scams are everywhere in the world we live in today. It seems as if it’s a daily occurrence to see a report on the nightly news of a new ploy to take advantage of consumers. Recently, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said it tracked a nearly 50% increase in identity theft complaints in 2015 and that the biggest contributor to this massive spike was due to tax refund fraud. Thousands of Americans have realized when going to file their taxes, that their return has already been processed! This could easily occur if a cybercriminal gets a hold of your Social Security number.
With tax season now in full swing, avoiding an IRS/tax return related scam or a “phishing” ploy is top of mind for many. Below are some helpful tips the IRS has provided:
- The IRS will NOT…
- E-mail or text taxpayers
- Call you to demand immediate payment. The IRS will not call you if you owe taxes without first sending you a bill in the mail.
- Demand that you pay taxes and not allow you to question or appeal the amount you owe.
- Require that you pay your taxes a certain way. For instance, require that you pay with a prepaid debit card.
- Ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Threaten to bring in police or other agencies to arrest you for not paying.
If you’re contacted by someone who claims to work for the IRS or is demanding you to take action, the best course of action is to not provide any personal information, immediately hang up and contact the IRS directly by phone at 800-829-1040. Click here to visit the IRS’ website for more tips on protecting yourself from a potential tax related scam.
Also, if you haven’t already, I’d recommend watching the webinar we hosted in early 2016 with Andy Zolper, Chief IT Security Officer with Raymond James to learn more about the measures we take to ensure the integrity of client information. Andy also offers some great advice on how to protect yourself from cyber threats at home and on your mobile devices.
Nick Defenthaler, CFP® is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® Nick works closely with Center clients and is also the Director of The Center’s Financial Planning Department. He is also a frequent contributor to the firm’s blogs and educational webinars.
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