Tips to Avoid Mobile Scams This Tax Season

Filling out your taxes may be a drag, but it’s made even more difficult when scammers attempt to deceive you into providing personal information and money. During January and February of this year, IRS and Social Security-related spam text messages increased dramatically according to research from recently interviewed Giulia Porter, VP at Teltech to discuss phishing tactics used recently and the best ways to keep yourself safe.

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Tips for Protecting Yourself From Tax Scam Messages

  1. Stop Answering Calls and Texts From Unknown Numbers – The first step may appear to be the most obvious, but the easiest way to avoid spam calls or texts is simply not to answer unknown numbers. Spam callers are numerous, and it might be simpler to just allow unknown numbers’ calls go straight to voicemail.
  2. Consider the Method of Communication – Regardless of whether you’re applying for a job, filing taxes, or reporting an offshore bank account to the IRS, most U.S. agencies communicate with taxpayers by email or postal mail and will never text you. “Normally you won’t hear from the IRS or Social Security unannounced, “she said. “If there is an issue with your account, typically you’ll receive multiple forms of communication, such as mail that comes to your house notifying you of changes. Always remember that if the IRS is calling you out of the blue, it’s pretty unlikely that it is a legitimate call.”
  3. Ignore Threats in Calls and Texts – Criminals frequently provide their victims a short time to pay up, counting on the victim’s lack of knowledge about tax law or fear of imprisonment to gather the crooks the cash or information they desire.“Typically a scammer says something like, ‘If you don’t pay the taxes you owe, then you’ll go to prison in seven days,’” Porter said, “so if there’s any talk that’s really urgent within the call or text itself, make note of that.”
  4. Keep Your Info to Yourself – “Don’t provide any sort of personal financial information over the phone,” Porter said. “For texts, we always recommend not replying. Don’t click on links.” Porter also noted that if you’re curious to see if other people received these texts, you can type the message verbatim into a search engine online. However, just because the precise wording of the message isn’t found in search results doesn’t imply it’s a scam. Play it safe by not replying and avoiding any included links.
  5. Use an App to Block the Spam – Scammers have found a variety of ways to trick people out of their money or personal information, and some apps in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store are meant to prevent this. PCMag has a list of the greatest third-party call blocker software, including Hiya, RoboKiller, and Truecaller.

You can read more from PCMag and Giulia Porter here.

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