A reader: I just received an email from the IRS telling me that I needed to update my e-file immediately. I know this is not the IRS because I haven’t even filed yet. How would the IRS contact me if I did need to update my e-file?
Action Line: This is not the Internal Revenue Service contacting you. The emails we have seen in past years appear to be from the IRS. The email generally includes a link to a bogus website that looks like the IRS site but is not. The real website address for the IRS is www.irs.gov.
Some of the examples of bogus sites have been usa.gov or IRSgov (without the period between IRS and GOV).
The most important thing you need to know is that the Internal Revenue Service DOES NOT initiate contact with taxpayers through social media, by email or text message to request any personal or financial information.
They will not contact you regarding your PIN number. They will not contact you regarding passwords. They will not contact you for credit card information. They will not contact you for your bank account information.
They will only contact you through the mail.
If you receive an email or text, do not respond to it. Do not click on any of the links listed in the communication. Instead, you should forward any scam emails or texts to the IRS at email@example.com.
The Better Business Bureau offers some additional tips on what you can do to avoid being scammed this tax season:
▪ Never carry your Social Security card with you.
▪ Never give your personal information to anyone over the phone, mail or internet.
▪ If you’re filing your own taxes make sure you are using the legitimate software or website, and your anti-virus and firewall are up to date.
▪ Be cautious of tax preparers who claim they can get you a larger return than other preparers, who base their fees on a percentage of the amount of the refund, who ask their clients to sign blank tax forms, and any preparer who refuses to provide a copy of the completed tax return.
▪ Always do your research when finding a tax preparer or certified public accountant to avoid dealing with a fly-by-night company that charges you outrageous fees and then disappears. Be cautious of who you are dealing with and make sure what is being done is on your behalf.
Remember, you bear the responsibility for the tax return they submit. If you suspect tax fraud, please report it.
Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 2600 W. Shaw Lane, Fresno, CA 93711 or firstname.lastname@example.org.