So, you’ve received your W-2(s) and need to file your taxes. Now what?
For many people, the next step is heading to a trusted tax professional. Others choose to e-file online. For those who choose the latter, The Better Business Bureau of West Michigan warns, ‘watch out for scammers.’
There are some good legitimate resources online for filing tax returns and then there are some sketchy ones.
According to the Better Business Bureau of Western Michigan fake websites that mimic popular tax preparation sites aim to fraudulently collect personal sensitive information, and then use that info to file the return on a taxpayer’s behalf and collect the refund. People often don’t realize they’re victims until they’re unable to file their taxes online or don’t receive their refund.
“File your taxes as early as possible so scammers don’t have a chance to use your information first,” said Lisa Frohnapfel, President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau in Western Michigan.
By the end of February, most people should already have received a Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement. In fact, your employer is required to provide you with those no later than January 31st. This year (2023), tax returns are due Tuesday, April 18.
Another popular tax season scam involves scammers impersonating the IRS, again in order to collect personal information by calling and texting people to ask for personal sensitive information like usernames, passwords or Social Security numbers.
According to the Better Business Bureau of Western Michigan, the IRS will never contact consumers this way, or ask for any other personal sensitive information over the phone. Sometimes the scammers target people who owe taxes from a previous year and demand immediate payment (often through uncommon methods like wire transfers or prepaid debit cards) or threaten arrest or fines if the victim doesn’t comply.
“Using a trusted tax-preparer can save you the headache of navigating fake websites and scammers attempting to gather your information and collect your refund,” said Frohnapfel. “Use BBB.org to find a trustworthy, Accredited preparer near you.”
If you are the victim of tax identity theft, contact the IRS at 1-800-908-4490. You should also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.
The Federal Trade Commission offers a personalized identity theft recovery plan at identitytheft.gov.