These days, filing tax refunds and tax returns via the Internet has become more common. Unfortunately, it has also given birth to a new breed of scam artists, too. Phishing scams and identity theft is more prevalent. Following are a few things to look out for if you receive an email from somebody purporting to be from your local tax authority.
What should I look out for?
These scammers will go to great lengths to ensure that the email correspondence they send to you looks genuine. They will even replicate tax authority logos and what looks like a link to the relevant website. They ask you to provide personal details such as name, date of birth, address, bank details – this gives them everything they need to be able to search for your tax refunds and bank account.
The links they provide you with may direct you to a website which looks exactly like the tax office site, look for anomalies, spelling errors and bogus emails, they can be easily spotted if you know what you are looking for. The bogus websites can also request personal information and your credit card detail information. If you do receive this type of email do not click on any links provided and do delete and block any future emails. However, make a note of the email address you received it from and report it as a potential scam. The authorities will then investigate and hopefully this will prevent others from being duped.checkout their latest updates at http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/20-years-prison-100m-tax-refund-fraud-leader-38231914
What if I have provided all of my details?
If you believe you may have submitted your details to a fake site, then contact your bank or financial institution without delay. Explain what you think has happened; they may send you new account details or just keep watch for any unusual activity on your account. Banks, financial institutions and tax authorities will never ask for verification online of your personal details.
How can I protect myself?
There are many ways to protect you from tax refund identity theft and online fraud.
• If you receive unsolicited emails claiming to be from the tax authorities or banks, take a note of the email address which sent it, the date and time, delete the document and report it.
• If you are unsure if the email sent to you is a legitimate request, contact the organization from their regulated website, not from the details given via the email or phone. Search the internet and find the details for the tax authority or bank yourself or use the contact details from any official letters or documentation you have from them.
• Don’t open any email attachments or open any links and definitely don’t reply to these emails. If you do, it may download a virus onto your computer.
• Most importantly never send your financial details over the email or give them over the phone, keep your credit card and banking details safe – con artists can commit identity fraud and steal your tax refunds and your money if you allow them access to this information.
Be vigilant, if you are unsure that someone is asking you for information which they shouldn’t be, take the details and report it to your local authority, that way you will never fall prey to people trying to steal your hard earned cash.