How to spot scams that mimic the IRS or charities

The fraud is an activity all year round but tax season brings an increase in calculated schemes to steal money and personal information ...


The fraud is an activity all year roundbut tax season brings an increase in calculated schemes to steal money and personal information by spoofed posts and other means. Cybersecurity companies have also reported an increase in fraud attempts that exploit the conflict in Ukraine – a situation that has heightened fears of potential cyberattacks to American companies by Ransomware and other malware. You can better protect yourself if you know what’s going on. Here is a guide.

the Internal Revenue Service does not make initial contact with taxpayers via email, text or social media channels to request personal and financial information, including bank account or credit card numbers, passwords or PINs . Messages asking for this information are misleading “Phishing” attempts to steal money and identities.

If the IRS needs your attention, it starts with a notice by regular mail via the United States Postal Service in most cases.

The IRS will not send unexpected messages regarding verification of returns, sending stimulus payments, collect your taxes or “cancel your social security number”. An IRS representative may call or visit when a taxpayer has an overdue bill or has other tax-related issues. But even then, written notification is usually sent first, depending on the agency.

Fraudulent phone calls and voicemails using spoofed agency numbers and fake IRS agent ID are common. Again, the agency usually mails a notice first. He doesn’t call out of the blue to discuss tax refunds, threaten to be arrested by local law enforcement, or demand immediate payment in a specific form. Tax bills are paid to the US Treasury and not directly to “agents” requiring funds in iTunes or Amazon gift cards, prepaid debit cards, e-cash, or wire transfers.

the Tax Scams/Consumer Alerts Page on the official irs.gov The site has a long list of current and classic scams. And the site has a guide for verify real IRS agents and identify legitimate debt collectors.

Opportunistic scammers quickly take advantage of natural disasters and humanitarian crises, including Covid-19 pandemic and the war in ukraine. Beware of messages from unknown organizations asking for credit card or cryptocurrency donations – or claiming to be from refugees or the military. Crowdfunding campaigns should be avoided or scrutinized unless you know the organizer.

Most fraud attempts are easy to spot. Messages laden with typos, impersonal “official correspondence” from Gmail and Yahoo accounts, and voicemails left by robotic computer speech are instant red flags. False invoices and falsified PayPal reviews remain popular phishing lures.

You can avoid many phishing lures by adjusting your email program settings unwanted filters and block unwanted calls and sms senders. Allow unknown callers to access voicemail. Wire cuttera site belonging to the Times, has a guide to fighting unwanted calls.

Make sure your browser is configured to block pop-up messages and warn about malicious sites. Do not install apps from unknown developers and keep anti-virus software activated on your computer. If the spam gets through, don’t call the number or open the attachment – it’s probably malware. If you have any concerns about an account, open your browser and go to the company’s website, avoiding any links in messages.

Credit…Apple

the Consumer Financial Protection Bureauthe site has detailed page on frauds and scams currently circulating. And even if you have been a safe computer user for years, you probably have a friend or relative who isn’t as tech-savvy and could use your help.

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Newsrust - US Top News: How to spot scams that mimic the IRS or charities
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