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Watch out for this clever tax scams

File photo.
(REUTERS/Kacper Pempel)

In a few weeks, the dreaded tax season. We abhor those oddly titled documents with small print. We wonder what number of repayment or rest – those mysterious equations will spit out. As more of us sign up as part-time contractors, to drive for Lyft and selling crafts on Etsy, our taxes more complicated. We anxious.

Criminals love to take advantage of that fear.

By the way, if you get back on your taxes, let me help you. First, tap or click here for an objective comparison of the various load-website and software options.

I bet you have a lot of tech in your life. How many of your accounts for internet, satellite-tv, smartphone, tablet, laptop, computer, home office and more is tax deductible? We tackle this thorny topic in a recent podcast with one of the nation’s leading tax accountants. Tap or click here to listen to the podcast or read more on my site.

Tax scams and phishing activities have become more sophisticated than ever. By the forge of ads, websites, and the caller-Id’s, scammers like to prey on your ignorance.

Imitators have a new twist

A lot of people who are victims of fake calls from the IRS. These calls are intended to trick you into providing your personal info. They pretend to be an IRS employee, even a kind of federal agent or law enforcement officer and ask you to pay non-existent overdue taxes. They will insist on the use of wire transfer, prepaid debit card or gift cards. If you don’t pay, the crooks say that they will come to your house and arrest you.

Conversely, scammers can play “good cop”: They imitate a friendly IRS agent and say that you are entitled to a large refund. You need to simply on the basis of a number of of your information first.

Related: 7 sites that can save you a lot of money on what you already pay for.

Now there is a new twist. Imitation call, as they say, from the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS), an independent organization within the IRS. They’ll even spoof the number from the BAG offices in Houston and new york. It can be a person or a robocall asking for a callback, but in a way, these scammers ask for your information, including your social security number or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN).

Here’s the thing – the real BAG is to help you solve an IRS-related problem. But you call them, not the other way around.

Be smart and look for these signs

There are clear red flags that can identify with a scammer, no matter how real they sound. Here is what they do:

  • * Scammers identify themselves by using fake names and IRS badge numbers.
  • * They may even know that the last four digits of your social security number.
  • * It is not difficult for scammers to spoof phone and identification numbers appear official.
  • * Fake e-mails can accompany phishing calls.
  • * They can even go so far as to fake background noise of other calls so it will sound like a real call center.

The TAX office says crooks would be able to threaten to put you in jail or revoke your driver’s license and then in some cases, and they will hang. That will be followed by a call from someone pretending to a different setting, such as the local police or the GOVERNMENT, to give more weight to the first threat. Again, Caller ID will probably say the same thing, but not for fall.

The IRS says they never call you demanding immediate payment. And the biggest red flag is that the government don’t ask people to pay with gift cards. That is the easiest tell.

If you owed money to the real IRS, you will receive an invoice in the mail. You can use a payment plan, and you will either send a check or the use of a trusted third-party service (verified on the website of the IRS) to pay past due taxes online.

How to protect yourself against scams TAX

There are a number of simple ways to ensure that you do not become a victim of these scams. First, the real IRS will also not threaten to have you arrested, nor a call about a bonus refund then you are entitled to. And they certainly do not ask for a credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

Related: How to switch to other cheaper mobile phone provider.

If you have a call from one of these crooks, hang up immediately. If they sense hesitation and think they have you on the hook, they can continue to call back to convince you that they are real.

You can report these calls to phishing@irs.gov. “IRS Telephone Scam” in the subject line. You can also contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, or TIGTA, report of the conversation, using their IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting page. The Federal Trade Commission is another option. Just use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov and add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes. You can also call the TAX administration at 800-366-4484.

The TAX office maintains a list of the tax scams and consumer alerts on their website. Check that by clicking here. And you can subscribe to my tech alert newsletters, which go only if I have something to say (and I do not sell your information to advertisers).

Microsoft said that there is an average of 300,000 phishing attempts via their browsers, Internet Explorer and Edge. Think what that number really is when you factor in the more popular browsers, such as Google Chrome.

If you’re a Windows 10 user, not only depend on passwords, and if possible, use multi-factor authentication. Many of the modern Windows-based laptops are equipped with “Windows Hello” face or fingerprint ID.

Watch out for suspicious e-mails, in particular those who say they are from your bank or other financial institution. Download no attachments sent by someone you do not know, and do not click on links included.

Each year, the IRS compiles a list together of the “dirty dozen”, or the most popular scams to look forward to each year. Take a look at the video and read more on their website.

What the digital lifestyle, if you have any questions? Call my radio show and click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. Of the buy of an opinion to the digital world problems, click here for my free podcasts.

Copyright 2019, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved.

Learn about the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and provides advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.

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