Friday, March 21, 2008
Don't Be a Victim: Tax Fraud
It's that time of year again, tax season, and many are rushing to get them done and get that much needed refund, but before you sign the dotted line, make sure you know how to avoid becoming the victim of tax fraud. Here is Dave Kartunen with all the tax tips.
WSVN -- For some, this year, President Bush had some good news when it came to tax refunds.
President Bush: "This growth package must take into account tax relief that will directly affect economic growth."
And it gives one more target for those trying to scam you out of your tax refund money and identity.
Officer Frank Jackson: "Don't let yourself become a victim, do your homework, be aware, know where you are getting your taxes done."
Officer Frank Jackson of the Coral Gables Police Department says, tax time is one of the most dangerous times when it comes to scammers. He says there are three red flags to watch out for.
Officer Frank Jackson: "When you ask, 'How much am I going to owe you for your service?' and their response is, 'Well, it all depends in the amount you will be receiving.'"
This is definitely not what you want to hear. Officer Jackson says, some companies will falsify your financial information in order to give you a higher refund, so the crooks get paid a higher fee.
Next, pay close attention to how they advertise their business.
Officer Frank Jackson: "A definite red flag would be a company who is advertising that they will give you more money back than the other company."
That should be a red flag because there is no way to predict how much your refund will be. Third on the list of scams, fake emails claiming to be from the IRS.
Officer Frank Jackson: "The IRS will not, under no circumstances, send you an email and offer you a higher rebate if you do your taxes early."
These are what's called phishing emails, they are fishing for your personal information in order to steal your financial identity.
Dave Kartunen: "The trick is simple, the email will have a link to a fake IRS website, then it will request you to input all your personal information. Once you hit send, the crooks have stolen your identity."
Agent Ray Lopez from Geek Squad says, it's easy to fall victim of this scam. His tip, before doing your taxes on-line, buy protection software.
Ray Lopez: "Nothing is 100 percent secure, but it's going to protect you from your information getting out there very easily, so it's going let you know if somebody is copying your information."
Dave Kartunen: "Security software programs cost about $40, and they need to be updated once a year."