ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10)

PRESS RELEASE:

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 With tax season approaching, Attorney General Chris Carr is encouraging Georgia taxpayers to protect themselves from tax-related scams and tax identity theft.

“As Georgians prepare to file their taxes this year, we are offering a few tips and warnings to protect them from con artists who may try to swindle Georgia taxpayers out of their hard-earned money,” said Attorney General Chris Carr.

“The Department of Revenue continuously adapts our fraud management system to catch tax identity theft and tax fraud once returns are filed,” said Revenue Commissioner David Curry. “However, I would like to strongly encourage taxpayers to help combat this problem by learning how to protect their information and by doing their due diligence to ensure they are entrusting their confidential taxpayer information to a reputable tax professional.”

Here’s what consumers need to know:

IRS Impersonation Scams

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In this scam, fraudsters contact consumers by phone, purporting to be an IRS agent and claiming that the consumer owes the IRS money for back taxes. The scammer threatens arrest or legal action if the consumer does not immediately pay the money owed via wire transfer, gift cards or pre-paid debit card. Consumers can easily be convinced that these calls are real as the scammer may know a consumer’s full or partial Social Security number (SSN) or even use spoofing software that causes the IRS name and/or number to show up in your caller ID.

Here is what you need to know to avoid this scam:

  • The IRS will never call a consumer about unpaid taxes or penalties; the agency typically contacts consumers by letter via the U.S. Mail.
  • They won’t leave a message threatening to sue you, arrest you or deport you if you don’t pay right away.
  • The IRS won’t demand a specific form of payment, such as an iTunes gift card, Green Dot Money Pak or wire transfer.
  • If you get a call purporting to be from the IRS, never send money. Instead, hang up and either a) report the scam to the FTC and to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at tigta.gov or by calling 1-800-366-4484; or b) If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue – if there really is such an issue.
  • If you get an email that claims to be from the IRS, do not reply or click on any links. Instead, forward it to phishing@irs.gov.

Tax Identity Theft

This occurs when a fraudster uses your Social Security number (SSN) to file a tax return in your name and collect your refund. It also occurs when someone uses your SSN to get a job. Typically, consumers don’t realize they have been victims of tax identity theft until they get a written notice from the IRS saying that more than one tax return was filed using their SSN. If someone used your SSN to get a job, and the employer reports that person’s income to the IRS using your SSN, the IRS will send you a notice saying you received wages but didn’t report them.

The best way to avoid tax identity theft is to file your taxes as early as possible before a scammer has the chance to use your Social Security number to file a fraudulent return. This year the IRS will start accepting returns on February 12, about two weeks later than usual. The deadline for filing your taxes is still April 15.

As added security, tax filers can get an Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) from the IRS before they file their returns. This is a six-digit number, which, in addition to your Social Security number, verifies your identity. It is important to note that you cannot opt-out once you get an IP PIN. Once you apply for it, you must provide the IP Pin every time you file your federal tax returns – this year and in all future years. The IRS will provide your IP PIN online. A new IP PIN is generated for each filing season and can be retrieved starting in mid-January of each year by logging into the account you create. Visit irs.gov/individuals/get-an-identity-protection-pin for more information about the program.

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If you are the victim of tax identity theft, contact the IRS at 1-800-908-4490. You should also file a complaint with the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.