Protect yourself from tax scammers as IRS deadline nears - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Protect yourself from tax scammers as IRS deadline nears

Phishing is a common practice during tax season. The IRS provides information and resources to help taxpayers avoid being defrauded. (Source: MGN Online) Phishing is a common practice during tax season. The IRS provides information and resources to help taxpayers avoid being defrauded. (Source: MGN Online)

(RNN) - We're just a few days away from April 15, the annual deadline for Americans to pay their income tax.

Tax time is prime time for scammers who use the IRS name, logo and website to try to steal identities and refunds, so be wary and protect yourself from fraud.

The IRS never initiates contact with taxpayers through email to request personal or financial information. It does not use text messages or social media. It never sends communications requesting PIN numbers, passwords or information to access credit cards and bank accounts.

The IRS maintains a list of known scams on its official website, www.irs.gov. The official site contains other information about how taxpayers can protect themselves from fraud.

Here is the link to go directly to the consumer alerts.

Scams can take place through phone, email or fax.

One of the most recent lures victims with a phony email telling them they are due a tax refund, but there was a problem with their filing. It directs them to a website – with a different address from the official site, irs.gov – where it asks for personal information that will "fix" the problem.

According to the IRS, the bogus email contains the following message:

"Your reported 2013 income is flagged for review due to a document processing error. Your case has been forwarded to the Taxpayer Advocate Service for resolution assistance. To avoid delays processing your 2013 filing contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service for resolution assistance."

If you receive one of these messages, do not click the links or respond to the email. Forward it to phishing@irs.gov and then delete it. For more information go here.

If you receive a suspicious phone call that claims to be from the IRS, ask for a call-back number and a badge number. You can then contact the IRS  and ask if the caller is an employee and if they have reason to contact you. If the caller is not legitimate, you should report the incident to the Treasury Department here.

If you receive an unsolicited fax, contact the IRS to make sure it is a legitimate correspondence.

If you receive a text message, do not reply, open attachments or click links. Forward the text to the IRS at 202-552-1226. Once you forward it, delete the text.

To safely get up-to-date information on your refund, go to Check My Refund or use the IRS2GO mobile app.

You should call the IRS Fraud Hotline if you think you have been the victim of identity theft or that your social security number may have been used for illegal tax filings. That number is 1-800-829-1040.

Copyright 2014 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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