AARP is warning Coloradans about two tax scams. An imposter scam occurs when a fraudster poses as an IRS agent and claims a person owes back taxes. In the identity theft scheme, thieves electronically file a tax return under a name other than their own to collect that person’s tax refund. All the con artists need is a birthdate and Social Security number.
“Throwing a pay stub in the trash may seem easier than finding a shredder, but the risk of having your tax refund stolen is just too great,” said AARP spokeswoman Angela Cortez. “And paying someone who claims to be an IRS agent may seem like it will get the government off your back, but it will actually rob you of your hard-earned money.”
According to the Federal Trade Commission, Colorado ranks 13 th in identity theft complaints, and too many taxpayers make their personal information easy pickings by:
- Failing to lock their mailbox. Almost six in 10 (59 percent) Americans do not regularly lock their mailbox, which leaves them open to theft of bills, tax forms and other documents that contain personal information.
- Leaving valuables exposed: More than half (54 percent) of Americans, ages 18-49, have left at least one valuable personal item in their car in the last week (e.g., a purse/wallet, paystub, laptop) that could be used to steal their identity.
- Failing to destroy personal information: More than one in five (21 percent) Americans say they never shred any of the personal documents that could be used to steal their identity.
AARP encourages Coloradans to follow these four tips to protect against tax identity theft:
- Do mail tax returns early in the tax season before cons beat you to it.
- Don’t give out personal information unless you know who’s asking and why.
- Shred personal and financial documents.
- Know your tax preparer.
To protect taxpayers from imposter scams, AARP recommends these 3 important facts:
- The IRS doesn’t call to demand immediate payment for taxes owed without first sending a notification by mail.
- The IRS doesn’t ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- The IRS doesn’t threaten to contact law enforcement to arrest you for nonpayment.
- Also, Coloradans are encouraged to visit aarp.org/taxaide (1-888-227-7669) for information about AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, the nation’s largest free, volunteer-run tax preparation program. Each tax season, Tax-Aide helps millions of low- to moderate-income taxpayers – especially those 50 and older – get the credits and deductions they deserve.
For these and other fraud prevention tips, visit aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork.
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