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Tax scams are on the rise. Know the signs, be vigilant, and don't be a victim

Tax scams are on the rise. Know the signs, be vigilant, and don't be a victim

This year, the IRS is cautioning taxpayers to be extra vigilant because of a 60 percent increase in email phishing scams over the past year. This is particularly disheartening, since it comes on the heels of a steady decline in phishing scams over the previous three years.

Typically, an email phishing scam will appear to be from the IRS. Once the victim has opened the email, the scammer will use one of several methods to get at the victim's personal information, including their financial data, tax details, usernames and passwords. They will then use this information to steal the victim's identity, empty their accounts or file taxes in the victim's name and then make off with their refund.

Scammers have several means for fooling victims into handing over their sensitive information. The most popular tax-related phishing scams include the following:

1.   Tax transcript scams. In these scams, victims are conned into opening emails appearing to be from the IRS with important information about their taxes. Unfortunately, these emails are bogus and contain malware.

2.   Threatening emails. Also appearing to be from the IRS, these phony emails will have subject lines like "IRS Important Notice" and will demand immediate payment for unpaid back taxes. When the victim clicks on the embedded link, their device will be infected with malware.

3.   Refund rebound. In this scam, a crook posing as an IRS agent will email a taxpayer and claim the taxpayer was erroneously awarded too large a tax refund. The scammer will demand the immediate return of some of the money via prepaid debit card or wire transfer. Of course, there was no mistake with the victim's tax refund and any money the victim forwards will be used to line the scammer's pockets.

4.   Phony phone call. In this highly prevalent scam, a caller spoofs the IRS's toll-free number and calls a victim, claiming they owe thousands of dollars in back taxes. Those taxes, they are told, must be paid immediately under threat of arrest, deportation or driver's-license suspension. Obviously, this too is a fraud and the victim is completely innocent.

If you're targeted

When targeted by any scam, it's crucial to not engage with the scammer. If your Caller ID announces that the IRS is on the phone, don't pick up! Even answering the call to tell the scammer to get lost can be enough to mark you as an easy target for future scams. If you accidentally picked up the phone, hang up as quickly as possible.

Similarly, suspicious-looking emails about tax information should not be opened. Mark any bogus tax-related emails that land in your inbox as spam to keep the scammers from trying again.

If you're targeted by a tax scam, report the incident to help the authorities crack down on these crooks. Forward suspicious tax-related emails to phishing@irs.gov. You can also alert the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov.

Protect yourself from tax scams

Stay one step ahead of scammers this tax season by being proactive. Protect yourself with these steps:
• File early in the season so scammers have less time to steal your identity, file on your behalf and collect your refund.
• Use the strongest security settings for your computer and update them whenever possible.
• Use unique and strong passwords for your accounts and credit or debit cards.
• Choose two-step authentication when conducting financial transactions online.

Remember, the IRS will never:

• Call about taxes owed without having first sent you a bill via snail mail.
• Call to demand immediate payment over the phone.
• Threaten to have you arrested or deported for failing to pay your taxes.
• Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes.
• Ask you to share sensitive information, like a debit card number or checking account number, over the phone.
Be alert and be careful this tax season and those scammers won't stand a chance!

Have you ever been targeted by a tax scam? Share your experience with us in the comments.

SOURCES:

https://clark.com/personal-finance-credit/taxes/beware-of-these-common-irs-scams/
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2018/12/04/irs-warns-on-surge-of-new-email-phishing-scams/amp/
https://www.businessinsider.com/irs-phone-scam-what-to-do-if-you-get-scam-call-2018-2
 



The world of financial literacy can be complicated. Help your child learn skills for financial independence

The world of financial literacy can be complicated. Help your child learn skills for financial independence

When was the last time you talked with your child about money and finances? As parents,  one goal when it comes to raising our children is to help them become self-supporting adults and a contributing member of society.

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Avoid these common mistakes when filing your tax returns

Avoid these common mistakes when filing your tax returns

It's that time of the year again when we're all bringing out our calculators and sharpening pencils to fill out our tax returns. But the last thing we want to do is to wind up making a mistake that could jeopardize your finances by delaying your refund, make you accountable for a fee or, even worse, force you to do that dreaded paperwork and math all over again! Whether you choose to go it alone, use a tax-prep computer program or hand it all over to an accountant, begin by checking out this list of common mistakes people make when filing their tax returns.

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Recognizing those who make a difference - CDC FCU teams with Atlanta Business Chronicle for the Health Care Heroes Awards

Recognizing those who make a difference - CDC FCU teams with Atlanta Business Chronicle for the Health Care Heroes Awards

For about 70 years now, CDC Federal Credit Union has been the financial institution for members in the health-life science sector providing members with exemplary service. But as a credit union, we also recognize that it’s the members who have kept the institution strong and is the backbone of the organization. Because of this, CDC Federal Credit Union wanted to find a unique and special way to recognize some of those people in the health-life science industry who have made a difference in the field and in the lives of so many others. 

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