Heaton: Be aware of tax season scams

Posted by: Wade Coggeshall  | Monday, April 5, 2021

STATEHOUSE (April 5, 2021) – As taxpayers file their 2020 tax returns, State Rep. Bob Heaton (R-Terre Haute) urges Hoosiers to look out for identity thieves and scammers.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, the challenges that COVID-19 brought include a higher risk of identity theft, with 89,390 reports of tax identity theft in 2020, compared with 27,450 reports in 2019. Last year alone, the FTC received more than 2.2 million reports about fraud, with people reporting losses of nearly $3.3 billion.

"Even if someone claims to be an employee of the IRS, do not give personal or financial information over the phone and through email," Heaton said. "It is always OK to double check and verify that the person contacting you is who they say they are. And if you think your identity has been stolen, take immediate action before it is too late."

The Internal Revenue Service reports scammers use mail, telephone or email to deceive individuals, businesses, and payroll and tax professionals. According to the IRS, the bureau does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. The IRS is reminding the public to avoid scams including unethical ghost tax return preparers who do not sign tax returns they prepare, emails or text messages asking for personal and financial information, and imposters who call taxpayers claiming to be IRS employees using fake names and identification badge numbers.

To avoid falling victim to tax-related scams and identity theft, Heaton said to follow these tips provided by the FTC:

  • Protect Social Security Numbers throughout the year. Do not give it out unless there is a good reason and you are sure of who you are giving it to;
  • File tax returns as early in the tax season as possible;
  • Use a secure internet connection if filing electronically or mail tax returns directly from the post office;
  • Research a tax preparer thoroughly before handing over personal information;
  • Check credit reports at least once a year for free at annualcreditreport.com. Make sure no one has opened a new account in your name;
  • Do not give out sensitive information over the phone. When in doubt, hang up; and
  • Never click on or forward links in unsolicited text or email messages.

Heaton said those who believe they are a victim of a scam need to contact local law enforcement immediately. Scams should be reported to the Indiana Attorney General’s office by visiting indianaconsumer.com, and complaints should be filed with Federal Trade commission at ftc.gov/complaint or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.

The federal tax filing deadline this year is May 17. To find a reputable preparer, visit IRS.gov

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State Rep. Bob Heaton (R-Terre Haute) represents House District 46,
which includes portions of Clay, Monroe, Owen and Vigo counties.
Click here to download a high-resolution photo.