Historically, the former was the date Romans settled debts accrued during the previous year and it marked Julius Caesar’s assassination. These days, though the latter pop up throughout the year, they seem to thrive during tax season when they can pose as IRS agents or tax preparation software representatives to con well-intentioned citizens of their hard-earned money.
According to last week’s Federal Trade Commission report on fraud and identity theft, 1.1 million people reported that they were victims of fraud last year and lost a total of $905 million.
The IRS posts a list of scams on the website and, every year that list grows. You can find it here.
While these scammers are becoming more sophisticated each year, their approach remains reasonably consistent. They prey on their victim’s good faith by pretending to represent the government, a relative in trouble, a well-known business or a company’s technical support.
Never give your personal information directly to people who solicit it, either by email or phone. The IRS, for instance, will always send a letter to notify you of any fines or underpayment and will never demand immediate payment.
Likewise, no tax preparation software representative, like Turbo Tax, will call or email you to solicit further person information from you.
Be very wary of people who solicit charitable donations from you and demand immediate payment. Do not donate to a charity or individual through Facebook Messenger, because it’s too difficult to verify the identity of the person or charity behind the profile.
Likewise, be very wary of people who contact you regarding any sweepstakes you may have won, especially if you didn’t enter.
If you ever have any questions regarding a phone call or email you’ve received, call our office before you respond. We’ll be glad to help you determine the veracity of the request.
As Caesar said, “Men are quick to believe what they wish to be true.” But, a healthy dose of skepticism is the best way to protect your money and your peace of mind.