Watch Out for Tax-Refund Scams
With tax-filing season in full swing, it's important to be aware of scams that target taxpayers. The most common, according to the IRS, is a refund scam.
It involves an e-mail claiming to be from the IRS or the Exempt Organizations area of the IRS and telling people that they are eligible to receive a tax refund. The e-mail instructs people to click on an attachment or open another link to access a claim form, which asks for personal information.
You DO NOT have to fill out any special claim forms to receive a refund -- just your tax return. More importantly, the IRS DOES NOT send unsolicted e-mails, tweets or Facebook messages to taxpayers. And it doesn't use e-mail to collect personal information from taxpayers.
Thieves use refund scams to trick people into divulging personal information that can be used to access accounts or steal identities. Other common IRS-impersonation scams ask people to participate in paid surveys, reference tax provisions such as "Making Work Pay" or claim that the recipient of the e-mail is under investigation. And the IRS warns you not to open any e-mails that reference underreported income because they can download malware onto your computer. You can forward any suspicious e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you already filed your tax return and expect a check from the government, read my column on how to track the status of your refund.