The stress of tax season is no longer upon us. For most of us, a break from thinking about looming returns and W-2s is more than welcome. But the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) would like your attention for one more important message: The agency issued a new warning to all Americans this month. It’s something you should pay attention to now—well before the next tax season. Read on to find out what the agency is asking you to keep an eye out for, and how to keep yourself safe.
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Scams have become an unfortunate part of everyday life, as most of us regularly field annoying robocalls, phishing emails, and “smishing” texts. Last week, the Abermarle County Sheriff’s Office issued a warning about a new phone scam, where victims are targeted and told they owe a fine after failing to appear for jury duty.
But while fraudsters have become bold enough to call you directly, they also have sneakier tricks and tactics up their sleeves, particularly when it comes to your finances. The IRS addresses these common schemes annually in its “Dirty Dozen” scam list, outlining potential risk factors and how you can keep yourself safe. Now, the tax agency says you need to be aware of a scam that’s becoming more and more common.
If you’re on the hunt for a new job, you could be targeted by a new ruse, a June 6 press release from the IRS stated.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans lost their jobs and were forced to apply for unemployment benefits to stay afloat. Now, scammers have posted fake jobs on social media, preying on those looking for new positions. They lure targets in with the “bogus” post, the IRS said, and victims then provide sensitive information, as they believe they’re being offered a legitimate position.
“This creates added tax risk for people because this information in turn can be used to file a fraudulent tax return for a fraudulent refund or used in some other criminal endeavor,” the IRS press release stated.
If something feels off, it very well might be. Red flags include large salaries that don’t seem to match up with the experience level, overly flexible schedules, unprofessional communication, and requests for payment from you, according to Indeed, an employment website for job listings.
And while it may feel great to get a job offer right on the spot, this is a major indicator that the posting may not be legit.
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Fraudsters also may be one step ahead of you, the IRS warned. According to the June 6 press release, scammers could have filed for unemployment benefits in your name while you were or are employed. These fraudulent claims use stolen information to have payments sent directly to the thief and not to you.
If you were a victim of this form of identity theft, you might not realize it until your receive a Form 1099-G in the mail, the IRS said. In this event, the tax agency asks that you contact your respective state agency and request a corrected form; that office should be able to provide you with a new form and update your information with the IRS.
According to the IRS’ press release, in addition to fake job offers and theft of unemployment information, scammers are also using stimulus checks to lure you into giving up sensitive information.
All three of the Electronic Impact Payments (EIP) have already been issued, the IRS confirmed, and most who were eligible already received them. Some are still waiting on missing payments, however, and may fall for scams about receiving a late check. However, the IRS will never contact you via phone, email, text, or social media message asking for information related to stimulus checks, the agency confirmed.
“Scammers continue using the pandemic as a device to scare or confuse potential victims into handing over their hard-earned money or personal information,” Chuck Rettig, IRS Commissioner, said in the press release. “I urge everyone to be leery of suspicious calls, texts and emails promising benefits that don’t exist.”
Rettig added that the “best line of defense” is being both cautious and aware, instructing Americans to always validate information on a trusted website, namely IRS.gov.
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