Beware Tax Filing Scams

ax Filing Scam

It’s tax time! Unfortunately, that means there are thousands of scammers looking to steal your information and your tax refund by posing as authentic tax preparers. Here’s all you need to know about these scams and how to keep safe.

How the scam plays out: In a tax filing scam, a victim will hire an alleged tax preparer to do their taxes. The scammer then uses the victim’s information to file a tax return in the victim’s name. They’ll change some important details on the tax form, such as a checking account number or mailing address, and then collect the victim’s refund. By the time the victim realizes what’s happened, they’ve lost the money owed to them by the IRS and are now vulnerable to deeper identity theft.

Protect yourself: The best way to stay safe from a tax filing scam is to do your research carefully before hiring a tax preparer. First, avoid pop-up ads when choosing a tax preparer, especially those that are riddled with typos. Research any preparers you consider hiring by asking for references of previous clients and by looking for a physical address on their website. Be suspicious, as well, if they promise a large return without knowing anything about your finances.
Second, before hiring an individual or an agency to do your taxes, ask to see their Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). If the “preparer” refuses to share their PTIN, you’re being scammed.
Finally, if you’ve already hired a preparer but you’re suspicious about their authenticity, look for these red flags:

• The preparer inflates numbers that affect your tax liability.
• The preparer claims ineligible individuals as your dependents.
• The preparer asks you to sign a blank form and promises to fill out the remainder after you sign.
• The preparer refuses to sign your form.

If your tax preparer follows any of the above practices, terminate your relationship with them immediately.

If you’ve been targeted: If you’ve been targeted by a tax filing scam, report it to the authorities as quickly as possible. Let the FTC know about the scam and alert the IRS. If you’ve shared personal information with the scammer, you are now vulnerable to identity theft. Check out the federal government’s page on identity theft recovery to learn what steps to take next.
Stay safe!

Questions? Want more information on Freedom? Contact a Freedom Federal Credit Union representative at freedomfcu.org or 1-800-440-4120.

About Freedom Federal Credit Union
Freedom Federal Credit Union is proud to be your financial partner. Freedom serves and is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, attends school, volunteers, or has family in Harford or Baltimore County, MD. As a credit union, we are committed to putting you first, not shareholders, and helping you achieve your financial goals.
Learn more at freedomfcu.org or call 410-612-2135 to see how we can help.

 

Your Turn: Have you ever been contacted by a tax-related scammer? Tell us about it on Facebook, LinkedIn,Twitter, or Instagram @FreedomFedCU.

 

About Freedom Federal Credit Union

Freedom Federal Credit Union is a community-chartered federal credit union offering consumer financial services to those who live, work, volunteer, worship, attend school, or have family in Harford and Baltimore Counties. Additionally, Freedom offers a full-line of banking services for all businesses, associations, and other organizations that are based in Harford or Baltimore County.  Freedom has been in business since 1953 and has six locations throughout Harford and Baltimore County. To learn more, visit freedomfcu.org.

 

4 Scams to Watch Out for this Black Friday

Black Friday ScamsBlack Friday has traditionally been the day that ignites the holiday shopping season, sending masses of crowds through retailers across the nation. Unfortunately, it’s also a day that spawns a season of shopping scams.

Here are four scams to watch out for on Black Friday and throughout the holiday shopping season:

  1. The Amazon Prime service fraud scam

In this ruse, a scammer posing as an Amazon representative, will call to notify a target about an alleged problem with their Prime account. The victim is prompted to download a tool onto their computer or mobile device so the caller can gain remote access for “helping them resolve the problem” at hand. They’ll then be instructed to log onto their banking account so the caller can be compensated for their time. Unfortunately, this will give the scammer free reign over the victim’s accounts.

  1. Phishing emails

In these scams, the victim receives an email allegedly sent by Amazon or another large retailer, asking them to verify or update their account. Or, it might be to supposedly confirm an order. By using the link dropped into the email, the user will give their personal information directly to the scammer.

  1. Delivery issues

Delivery scams generally take the form of a message appearing to be from UPS or another delivery service, informing the victim of a “delivery issue” with an order. They’ll be asked to confirm or update their info using a provided link. Doing so gives the scammer access to their financial information and opens the door to identity theft and more.

  1. Non-delivery scam

This scam involves a purchased gift that never arrives. Unfortunately, the seller disappears after payment, leaving the victim with no way of notifying them about the no-show or for requesting a refund.

Avoid Black Friday scams

  • Never grant a stranger access to your device and/or accounts.
  • Don’t open links sent in emails from unverified contacts.
  • Never share sensitive information with an unknown contact.
  • Keep the privacy and spam settings on your devices at their strongest settings.
  • If you have an issue with an ordered item, contact the retailer directly through their site.
  • When shopping on a new site, look for a physical address, a customer service number and copy that’s free of spelling errors.

Stay safe!

If you receive something suspicious via text, email, or mail, related to your financial accounts please don’t hesitate to reach out if you are unsure.  

Your Turn: Have you encountered a scam like this before? Tell us about it on Facebook, LinkedIn,Twitter, or Instagram @FreedomFedCU.

 

Mortgage Payment Scams

Scam AlertThe Mortgage Payment Scam has been around a long time. Mortgages are recorded in the local county courthouse and are therefore public information.  It is just as easy for a criminal to get a hold of this information as anyone else, so be mindful of any solicitations you get in the mail regarding your property.

How does it work?

A member may receive a letter from a company other than their known mortgage company indicating that they purchased their Freedom mortgage and future payments are to be make to them, not us.  This is the entire SCAM.  Freedom does not sell the servicing of our mortgages to anyone.  If you receive such a letter, please disregard and report it back to us.

How can I protect myself from this type of scam?

Do:

  • Be wary of any solicitations demanding immediate payment or warning that you are late on a payment that is not from your known mortgage provider.
  • Call your mortgage provider to confirm that there have been no changes to your loan servicing agreement.
  • Report the letter to your credit union.
  • Use the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau’s online portal to file a mortgage-related complaint
  • Report any suspected scams to the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Don’t let those crooks walk free!

 Don’t:

  • Make a payment to anyone who is not your known mortgage lender without verified proof from your original lender.
  • Share any personal information with an unverified contact. If it’s personal info, make sure to keep it that way!
  • Click on links or download files from an unfamiliar email address.

Stay safe!

Freedom keeps all loans, including mortgages, in house for the duration of the loan term.  Your loans will not be sold to any other management company.  If you receive something suspicious via text, email, or mail, please don’t hesitate to reach out if you are unsure.  

Your Turn: Have you encountered a scam like this before? Tell us about it on Facebook, LinkedIn,Twitter, or Instagram @FreedomFedCU.