Tax refund fraud is predicted to soar again this year. The Internal Revenue Service expects it to reach $21 billion. Now that tax filing season is here, Hoosiers and taxpayers across the country are getting calls from scammers claiming to be with the IRS. Mandla Moyo with AARP Indiana says such scammers prey on people’s fears and count on the fact they will take an official-sounding telephone call seriously.
Moyo adds scammers work by intimidation, so it’s important to know the I-R-S never contacts people by telephone like that. Additionally they do not threaten individuals or their family members with jail time due to delinquent taxes.
The best thing to do if you get such a telephone call is to hang up. Do not give any personal information to anyone who contacts you via telephone claiming to be an IRS agent.
To file a tax return electronically, all someone needs is a name, date of birth and a Social Security number. The IRS accepts tax filings starting in January, but employers aren’t required to submit their payroll information to the agency until March. By that time, Moyo says about half of all refunds have been paid – many to people using someone else’s identity.
Steve Vanderver heads up the AARP Foundation’s Tax Aide program in Indiana, which offers free tax-filing assistance. He encourages seniors to file regardless of whether they made any money during the year, as a precaution to help keep their Social Security number secure. He says the Tax Aide program has checks and balances in place to keep personal information safe. He says they don’t keep any documents from the taxpayers they serve. They give everything back and tell people to keep them in a safe place
Tax Aide assistance is open to any low- or middle-income person, not just seniors or AARP members.