Beware of Phishing Scams

This article will attempt to explain what a phishing scam is and your need to be on the lookout for it. I recently received an email from the “IRS” that after reviewing my tax return I was to receive a refund of $27,621.00. This made me quite happy until I looked at it more closely and thought about my taxes. It quickly came to me that this was not what it said to be. The email was incredibly official looking and it did take me a moment to realize that this in fact was an attempt at identity theft.

Low and behold several days later in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday March 12th there was an article discussing identity thieves targeting tax refunds. In my particular case I do not file an electronic tax return but the practice is becoming more and more regular among United State citizens and my clients. Thus this article.

A brief explanation of how these identity thieves work is helpful. You receive an email promising a large tax return implying that you’ve made a mistake on your tax return and that you will receive a refund or the refund you will receive is greater than the one you expected.

You click on a link that takes you to an official looking website which then forces you to “identify yourself” via your name, date of birth and social security number and/or other personal information. They then ask you if you would like the funds electronically deposited into your account. As soon as this information is divulged they use the information to open credit accounts in your name. If you receive one of these emails, be very, very skeptical about it.

As far as trying to track it down you should immediately notify your tax preparation service, CPA or if you would like to go directly to the IRS the web site is www.irs.gov/advocate. This is a group within the IRS designed to help people with tax problems and is a good place to go to get help.

As a side note, as a Certified Financial Planner I know a lot of people who are excited about getting a tax refunds. If you think about a tax refund they are not that great. The reason for this is that you are over paying your taxes and are in essence giving Uncle S am a free loan which is refunded to you. When I ask people if they would be willing to loan me several thousand dollars or for that matter several hundred dollars during the year interest free and a year later in April I will give them back their money, they look at me in a confused way and say “Why in the world would I do that?” Well, that is exactly what you are doing with Uncle Sam. With that in mind pay your taxes in full and as close to the amount you owe as possible but try y our best not to over pay them. Happy tax season.

Willis Ashby, CFP® owns Integra Financial, Inc. which is a fee based Investment Advisor in Greenwood Village, Colorado. For a free consultation please call (303) 220-5525

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