| Sheriff Jay Koon |

Tax season is arriving. As you get your documents and statements in order, it’s important to be aware of potential fraud opportunities.

While it happens year-round, scammers particularly use tax refund time to target victims through various email phishing scams, fraud schemes, personal document theft, phone scams and other illegal tax activities. Nothing is worse than being scammed out of your hard-earned money.

Although it can happen to anyone–one type of tax scam frequently targets the elderly, often in the form of a phone call from someone claiming to represent the IRS. Scammers claim the IRS is suing the victim for tax evasion, and will offer to clear up the matter over the phone for a small convenience fee. This isn’t how the IRS operates.

Additionally, the IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. And they don’t ask for gift cards as payment.

Other tax scams involve impersonating charities, identity fraud through hacking or mail theft, and even scams against tax professionals. The IRS warns tax professionals of an uptick in phishing emails targeting them that involve payroll direct deposit and wire transfer scams. These business email compromise/business email spoofing tactics generally target all types of industry and employers (Irs.gov).

As another precaution, opt to have your refund delivered via direct deposit. The IRS says eight out of 10 taxpayers get their refunds by using direct deposit. It is simple, safe and secure. Not only is it faster than a check, direct deposit also avoids the possibility that your check could be lost or stolen or returned to the IRS as undeliverable.

For more information about tax fraud and scams, please visit www.irs.gov. The Sheriff’s Department offers free fraud prevention classes to churches, businesses and civic groups. For more information, please call us at 803-783-8230.