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.

 

Beware the Pending Package Scam

Package ScamEveryone loves a surprise package, and scammers are taking the excitement out of that experience by using bogus packages as a cover for a nefarious scam that tricks victims into sharing personal information.

Here’s all you need to know about the pending package scam:

How the scam plays out

In the pending package scam, the victim receives a text message from a contact who is an alleged mail carrier or represents a package-delivery service. The contact tells them that they were unable to deliver a package to the victim’s home. The victim is asked to reply to confirm their identity; however, as soon as they engage with the scammer, they are asked to share personal information or credit card details for scheduling delivery. This, of course, places the victim at risk for identity theft.

Red flags

There are two primary red flags that can warn you about the pending package scam.

First, the original text or email will generally not inform the victim of the identity of the company they represent. The scammer will only claim to be an employee of a mail or package-delivery service, but will not verify if they work for UPS, FedEx or another legitimate organization. However, this is not always the case.

Second, the scammers don’t always check if the victim actually has a package in transit. They’ll either assume the victim has recently ordered something online or they’ll claim a friend or family member has sent a surprise gift. If you know that neither of these is true, you can be on the alert for a possible scam.

Third, the text message may address you by the wrong name.  Scammers may try to take advantage of your good conscience by baiting you into clicking a malicious link to report that they have reached the wrong individual.

Don’t get scammed! 

Take these precautions to avoid being the next victim of a pending package scam:

  • Be wary of unsolicited communications. Your mail carrier and package delivery services will never contact you via text message. If a package cannot be delivered for any reason, they will usually leave a note on the door.
  • Track all incoming packages. After placing an order for an item, record the tracking number for the package so you can easily verify its whereabouts. This way, you can quickly confirm the authenticity of any suspicious texts, emails or phone calls about your package.
  • Never share personal information with an unverified contact. Be super-wary when asked to share sensitive information via text. If you suspect fraud, end the conversation immediately and do not engage further.
  • Never click on links in unsolicited text messages. Links in text messages can download malware onto your computer or device.

If you’ve been targeted

If you believe you’ve been targeted by a pending package scam, it’s important not to engage with the scammer. Delete any suspicious text messages and block the number of the contact. You can also report the scam at FTC.gov .

Your turn: How do you determine if you’ve been targeted by a pending package scam? Tell us about it on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. @FreedomFedCU