It has almost become a natural law: as tax season descends upon county residents, so too will scammers.
Tax identity theft can occur when a scammer files a fraudulent tax return using a person’s Social Security number to steal their refund.
Victims may not know the theft has happened until they try to file their tax returns and the IRS rejects their filing because a return has already been filed.
Sheriff Robert Craft said there had been no reports of this specific scam within the county as of yet.
“But I’m sure it will happen,” Craft said. “People should protect their Social Security numbers. Don’t give it out to anyone you don’t know that you didn’t initiate contact with.”
Scammers are known to obtain personal information through schemes ranging from large-scale data breaches to simple dumpster diving.
In a press release, attornery general Derek Schmidt offered these tips to avoid tax scams:
- Disclose Social Security Numbers only when absolutely necessary, such as filing taxes or applying for a loan.
- Be wary of websites or retailers that request this information.
- Personal financial documents and the past 10 years’ tax returns should be kept in a secure location, such as a locked filing cabinet or a fire-safe box.
- Anti-spam/virus software should be used to protect personal computers files.
- Online accounts should be protected using strong passwords and PIN numbers.
- Credit reports should be monitored for unauthorized or suspicious activity.
- Be ready to fend off high-pressure IRS impostor scams that attempt to trick people out of their money by threatening asset seizure or arrest unless they pay immediately.
Schmidt said people should remember that the IRS would never call and demand immediate payment. If back taxes are owed, he said the IRS would mail a notice before trying to reach taxpayers by phone. If there is any doubt, the IRS can be reached at (800) 829-1040.
Anyone who believes they may have been a victim of identity theft or a scam can file a report at www.InYourCornerKansas.org or call (800) 432-2310.