Every year during tax season, we hear about people getting scammed by fake IRS phone calls, unscrupulous tax preparers, and other tax schemes. Some of these cons can be quite convincing, and we want to help you protect yourself from these fraudsters. Here are a few of the most common tax scams and tips on how you can avoid becoming a victim.

1. Phone calls from the “IRS”
Last year, it seemed like everyone was getting a phone call from the IRS demanding immediate payment. Victims, often elderly or recent immigrants, were threatened with jail time or other consequences if they refused to pay. The callers were scary and aggressive, but they did not represent the government. How can you tell if these calls are real? Remember, the IRS will never call you demanding payment. If there is an issue, you will receive correspondence in the mail and be presented with repayment options.

2. Fake filers
Another common tactic scammers use it to steal someone’s social security number, file a false return, and get a refund. The only way you’ll know is when the IRS rejects your income tax return. It can take months to correct this issue once you know about it, but there are two steps you can take to prevent this from happening. First, file your taxes early, so no one else has the opportunity to get your refund. Second, get an IP PIN from the IRS. An IP PIN is a six-digit number that you can request from the IRS to prevent someone else from using your social security number.

3. Phishing emails
If you receive an email that says it’s from the IRS, you’ll probably take notice. This is what scammers are counting on when they send phishing emails. These emails frequently say you need to update your account or provide financial information in order to get a refund. Fraudsters then use this information to steal the victim’s identity. No one wants that to happen, but you can avoid it. If you receive an email claiming to be from the IRS or any other organization saying you’re due a refund, call the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040.

4. Return Preparer Fraud
When you’re selecting someone to prepare your taxes, it’s crucial that you make sure they’re a true tax pro. While the majority of tax preparers provide professional, high-quality service, dishonest preparers can steal your information and your money. If anyone tells you they can guarantee a high return, charge you based on the amount you’ll receive back instead of the work they’re putting in, or suggest falsifying your return so that you can get more back; you shouldn’t trust them with your information. After all, if they’re willing to cheat the IRS, they’re probably willing to cheat you too.

When it’s tax time, the scammers come out. With this information in-hand, you can protect yourself from the most common scams around. It’s important to remember that you can always reach out to the IRS directly if you have questions. Another resource? The experts at Happy Tax. With a team of highly-trained tax professionals, we can make sure your tax return is filed correctly and help you safeguard yourself and your information. Contact us today if you’d like to learn more.