March 30, 2018 – The IRS has issued an alert to both tax professionals and consumers about increasingly frequent tax scams. Among other things, scammers are sending phishing emails to tax preparers which contain suspicious links that, once opened, release viruses on the preparer’s computer and allow scammers to steal personal information of consumers including:
- Social Security Numbers,
- Bank Account Information,
- And other personally identifying information
Basically unless you specifically signed up for emails from a company, don’t click on any links or open any attachments sent to you – just mark them as spam and delete. Otherwise you’ll infect your computer with viruses, many of which you can’t even detect.
Remember, the IRS will ALWAYS send a regular letter through the mail before they reach out any other way. They don’t send harassing emails or make phone calls threatening immediate arrest or deportation.
Scammers have been using this stolen information to file fake tax returns under unsuspecting consumer’s names. Then, the scammers pose as debt collectors to collect the money that was deposited into a consumer’s bank account from the fake tax return. The scammers tell consumers that the money was mistakenly transferred into their accounts and request a refund from the consumers, thus allowing them to steal the money.
The IRS has provided steps for consumers to follow in order to find a trustworthy tax preparer this season. Those steps include:
- Utilize an approved tax preparer, including Free Income Tax Preparation Assistance for low income persons,
- Check the preparer’s qualifications, history and reputation,
- Ask about service fees,
- Ask to E-file,
- Check your online account to see the official status of your federal taxes, including how much you owe,
- Maintain records and receipts,
- Never sign a blank return,
- Review all documents before signing,
- Ensure the preparer signs and includes their PTIN (Preparer Tax ID Number),
- Report abusive tax preparers to the IRS
Consumers are also able to visit this website to verify that a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) holds a valid license with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
If you have any additional questions please contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling them at 617-973-8787, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm or visit their website here.
If you’re looking for any other kind of help with your local, state, or federal taxes as the April 17th filing deadline approaches, call the Boston Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service at 617-742-0625 or fill out our online form to be connected with an experienced and skilled local tax attorney in just minutes.