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Tax Refund Scammers & Tactics to Avoid & Tips to Follow

Tax Refund Scammers & Tactics to Avoid & Tips to Follow

What is a tax refund scam?

If you ever tried mailing your returns, and you received a reply from the IRS that it has already been filed with your Social Security Number, or you e-filed your tax returns. The application was declined because another person already used your Number to do the same, then you may have fallen victim to tax scammers. 

A tax refund scam involves fraudsters obtaining personal information by impersonating IRS agents, allowing them to access the victim's tax refunds. They simply use personal details, especially the social security number, to file returns and cash out the refunds. Only when the victim tries to file their tax will they detect the fraud. 

When you're due for tax returns, you automatically become a target for scammers. All that is required is obtaining the target's (SSN) Social Security number and name, and the possibilities are infinite. For example, tax fraudsters may file for an early tax return or claim refunds. To make it worse, tax refunds can be easily stolen without even meeting the victims.

Stolen Identity Refund Fraud (SIRF) is what the IRS terms as the theft of taxpayers' identities to scam them out of huge refunds. Although the IRS has put a lot of effort into checkmating tax scammers, it is clear that most of the work lies with the taxpayer to prevent access to delicate information.


How do scammers get the (SSN) social security number?

Tax filing is seen as a stressful process, and tax scammers take advantage of our desire to use any help that comes our way during tax season. They can easily steal your identity by offering to help.

You already know how important your (SSN) Social Security Number is to file your taxes successfully. It is the identity with which the tax authorities know you. It has to be correct to the last digit, or the IRS will reject your filing. That's why scammers always want to lay their hands on this all-important information. Once they can get your SSN, they are halfway through committing Identity Refund Fraud.  

Three significant ways by which they can get your SSN are:

  • Impersonating IRS officials through phone calls and demanding your details (IRS would never ask for your details)

  • Requesting for your details through fraudulent emails from "financial institutions." 

  • Hacking into the database of firms that have your personal information


Tactics to Avoid

Now you know you are always at risk of losing your precious money to fraudsters. Here's how to safeguard your funds.

It all starts with how secure your (SSN) social security number is. As much as possible, please keep it safe. You should know immediately that no financial institution would ever request your details, especially your (SSN) social security number. No matter how genuine a phone call sounds or how real an email looks, if it demands any of your details, you must assume it is a fraud, as it most likely is. 

Also, avoid going about with your (SSN) social security number, either in your bag or wallet. It is a security number and should be kept securely.  

Finally, never click on any links from suspicious emails, especially from sources you don't know. Even if a message appears to be from a trusted source, do not respond to any inquiries for your details.

However, if you knew about this too late and realized you may have been scammed, quickly fill out the Identity Theft Affidavit (IRS Form 14039) and attach the form to your tax return. Also, you can always call the number provided on the notice that the IRS sent to you. 

Also, don't hesitate to file a report by contacting the FTC IdentityTheft.gov and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.


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