Tax evasion techniques continue to evolve

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Tax filing season officially opened on January 24. With the opening of tax filing season comes an increase in tax scams. The need for diligence is present throughout the year. During tax filing season, it is even more important to be conscientious and diligent, as identity-related information is distributed and communicated at an increased level.

The approach of these scammers keeps changing to try and capture sensitive data from those individuals who are not in top form.

Any contact from the IRS is ALWAYS initiated by a letter issued by the US Postal Service. This letter will identify the tax year being discussed, discuss the issue, and provide a phone number YOU can call to discuss the issue with an IRS representative. The IRS NEVER initiates contact via phone calls, emails, texts, or by coming to your home. Generally, any government agency will contact you through the US Postal Service, not by telephone.

Already in 2022, I personally received several attempts to steal my personal data or that of my customers.

One of the latest and newest scams is the Social Security scam. I received a phone call from an imposter Social Security representative. They claimed they needed to contact me immediately because my social security number had been linked to criminal activity and suspended. The scammer then asked me to confirm my social security number so that he could reactivate my number or issue me a new one for a fee.

My social security number had not been compromised and there was no emergency. It was more of a ploy to get my social security number as well as money to “fix” the problem. In my case, there was a person on the phone, but this scam can also be done via a robocall. Recording the robocall would provide a phone number to call to remedy the situation.

Often these imposters will have a strong foreign accent.

Not all scam attempts are made over the phone or by email. Sometimes the scammer will attempt to impersonate an IRS representative by sending an artificial tax notice to an individual. This is done with the purpose of both stealing sensitive personal identity information and tricking the target into sending them money.

Never rush to respond to an unexpected review and always inspect every detail of any review. If the request is not consistent with your own history and background, that would be a first red flag. I also suggest you contact the published and approved number yourself for the IRS, Social Security Administration, or any other tax authority or government agency they claim to represent.

Don’t rely on the numbers they can provide.

The need for ongoing due diligence continues to grow as communication methods increase and the ability to communicate worldwide now exists. We all need to help each other identify and stop these scammers. Older people are particularly vulnerable as some may have impaired abilities due to the natural aging process, and there is a natural fear of government contact that may exist.

Those of us with aging parents also need to be on our guard and communicate frequently and regularly with our parents to ensure that they too do not become victims of these unscrupulous activities. I recently became an agent for my father and the number of scam calls I receive has increased dramatically as my details have now been submitted in multiple places as my father’s representative.

It is frustrating that we have to constantly be on our guard against the different types of scams that are taking place. Tax season only increases the vigilance we must maintain in order to protect our personal identity information.

Paul Pahoresky is a partner in the accounting firm of CPA JLP. He can be reached at 440-974-1040×214 or at [email protected] Consult your tax advisor for your particular situation for additional information and advice on these matters.

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