Getting scammed is no fun—and knowing what scamsters are up to can help keep you safe.
Here are four common identity theft scams the IRS wants you to be aware of.
- Congratulations, you’re a winner!
In this scam, an email claiming to come from the US Department of the Treasury informs you there are millions of dollars in recovered funds (either in cash consignments, lottery winnings or an inheritance) waiting to be retrieved. All you need to do to collect is email your phone number to the sender.
Of course, there’s a catch. Once you provide your phone number, you get a call telling you taxes must be paid before your claim can be processed. To make you think they’re for real, some tricksters may even say you’ll receive a check for partial funds to help you pay the taxes.
- Quick! Apply for your Making Work Pay credit!
This scam plays off the legitimate Making Work Pay credit, which you get through your paycheck. The email incorrectly states you can have the credit sent to you as a lump sum, and asks you to “register” your bank account information to receive it.
- Your Tax Refund is Ready
This email has links to a web page where you are requested to complete a form to get your tax refund. The email may be signed by a not-for-real government executive or include the name of a federal agency other than the IRS. No matter, it all boils down to the same thing: The huckster wants your personal information.
Just fill out this form …
IRS forms can be modified by shysters. One form they seem to like is W-8BEN, Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding. It generally arrives in an email or a fax, and claims your bank needs to update information about your “exemption from withholding taxes.” You’ll be asked to supply personal information exclusive to you, such as PIN, passport and bank account numbers.
In an age when even the chairman of the Federal Reserve can have his identity stolen, it pays to stay vigilant. As you’ve heard countless times, if something seems too good to be true—well, you know how that ends.