Take caution when filing your 2020 taxes

Ask the Better Business Bureau
Posted at 9:02 AM, May 04, 2021

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The tax deadline for Texas residents has been extended until June 15 because of February’s winter storms.

Many Texans are investigating options to file their taxes, either personally or by using a qualified tax preparer.

The Better Business Bureau says that every year, tax-related scams significantly increase during tax season.

Katie Galan with the BBB says, with an extended window, it gives scammers more time to take your money.

The IRS has issued several alerts on popular versions of tax scams, including educational scams, unemployment benefit scams, “ghost” tax preparer scams and Social Security suspension scams.

To combat the negative impacts of falling victim to these scams, it is important to understand how targets are exposed to scammers, indications of a scam and resources available to resume control of your financial well-being.

The BBB has seen an ongoing IRS-impersonation scam that targets educational institutions, including students and staff who have “.edu” email addresses.

The email displays the IRS logo and includes subject lines regarding tax refund payments. Recipients of the email are directed toward a phishing website where they are asked to provide personal information, such as their Social Security number, name and address.

The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information.

To verify the authenticity of communication from the IRS, search for the letter, notice or form number quoted in the email on or contact a local tax professional.

Recipients of fraudulent emails from IRS impersonators should not reply or open any attachments.

Another scam being seen is Unemployment Benefits Scams.

Due to the disruption caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, millions of Americans found themselves working reduced hours or losing their jobs. Many of these individuals applied for and received unemployment compensation from their state, allowing them to focus on the health and safety of their families during the pandemic.

However, the availability of unemployment funds quickly became a target for scammers.

If you're looking to have someone prepare your taxes Galan says, to beware.

"A ghost preparer is an individual who advertises themselves as a professional tax preparer, often stressing the return an individual can expect when they use their services," Galan said. "However, the preparer either refuses or conveniently “forgets” to sign the return they created on behalf of a client, leaving you without your money owed."

Galan says it is important to carefully analyze a chosen tax preparation business due to the sensitive personal information provided by consumers, such as SSN, bank account information, home address and financial assets.

BBB recommends consumers spend the time to research tax preparation professionals to determine their credibility and legitimacy.

Social Security Suspension Scams

Individuals across America are receiving phone calls from impostors claiming to be representatives of the IRS and threatening to cancel the person’s SSN due to an unpaid tax bill. Those who receive such a phone call should immediately hang up and report the number to the IRS.

For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust.

If you have any questions or concerns, log onto the BBB's website here for more information or assistance.