As tax filing day approaches, so do scams

As tax filing day approaches, so do scams

The IRS estimates the midpoint for the potential refunds for 2014 to be $847; half of the refunds are more than $847 and half are less.

They're at it again... tax scammers scheming new ways to steal personal information and money. Early in the year, when many taxpayers are preparing to file their returns. Surprisingly, they still direct the refunds into the victim's own bank account.

A woman who worked as a customer service rep for a student loan processor gave the personal information of student loan borrowers to a tax preparer, who in turn used the data to file fraudulent returns requesting large refunds.

Nevertheless, identity theft criminals remain active, with the Identity Theft Resource Centre (ITRC) recording 1,579 data breaches in 2017, up 45% from 2016, and Experian reporting that W-2 scams increased by nearly 80% over that period. The criminals asked taxpayers to forward the money to the collection agency.

If you cannot reach a family member or are unsure of what to do in the instance of a potentially fraudulent phone call, you can call the Bureau of Consumer Protection at 800-422-7128 or your local police nonemergency line. For 2014 tax returns, the window closes April 17, 2018.

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The Internal Revenue Service has provided additional information to help taxpayers meet their filing and payment requirements for the section 965 transition tax. Any of these scenarios is a strong indication that you may be the victim of tax identity theft. "If you're due a refund, the IRS is not going to penalize you".

Contact the IRS immediately if you are suspicious of fraud.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, take note: The agency will never initiate a phone call to a taxpayer, unless they're returning your call. Criminals are depositing fraudulent tax refunds into individuals' actual bank accounts, then attempting to reclaim the refund from the taxpayers.

If you have available credit, you may want to borrow from a lender or credit card. It might take you a while to process the changes in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, as well as the new Congressional budget agreement, but try not to delay filing your tax return for too long. In Texas, 108,000 people didn't file a tax return in 2014, leaving behind a whopping $122 million. But that money will, instead, be claimed by the U.S. Treasury unless you get cracking. If you're under age 59, the government will assess a 10 percent penalty right off the top of the amount you withdraw.

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