The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance is reminding taxpayers to remain vigilant and guard against scams during the tax filing season.
Strategies used by scammers to steal private information can be as simple as a phone call or as sophisticated as a phishing campaign to install malware on victims’ home computers.
“It’s a nonstop battle to identify and prevent fraud by identity thieves and scam artists,” said New York State Taxpayer Rights Advocate Margaret Neri. “The Tax Department is constantly updating its award-winning analytics to keep pace with these criminals, but it’s also critical for taxpayers to be alert to common scam tactics and protect themselves.”
Telltale signs of a scam
■ Threatening calls: Scam artists who use this tactic try to bully or trick victims into disclosing private information, or convince them to wire money to pay a tax debt or fine. If a caller, perhaps posing as a New York State Tax Department or IRS agent, threatens arrest it’s a scam. Neither agency threatens taxpayers, and they notify taxpayers by letter first before making any calls or sending any emails.
n Unusual emails: Phishing emails often contain links that activate malware or lead to phony websites that request personal information. Misspellings or unfamiliar logos in the email or subject line are obvious clues that it’s a scam attempt, but some of the bogus emails and websites are convincing. Hovering over the links may reveal an unusual webpage address (URL) that confirms the sender’s true intent. To be safe, simply delete these emails and any that are unsolicited, and never click the links within them.
Remember, the Tax Department never requests personal or financial information by email.
n Offers to collect a tax payment in person: If a caller claiming to be from the Tax Department or IRS offers to meet you at a specified location to collect a payment, it’s a scam. This is never an option with the IRS or Tax Department. End the call immediately.
n Requests for a specific type of payment: If you’re being told to pay through a prepaid debit card or an iTunes gift card, this is an obvious sign of a scam. The Tax Department and IRS provide various payment options, but the use of gift cards isn’t one of them.
If you are a victim, or believe you may be a potential victim of tax-related identity theft, alert the Tax Department immediately, which will track your information to help keep it private and protected. Visit the Tax Department’s Report fraud, scams, and identity theft webpage.