The Better Business Bureau of Acadiana is warning local residents to beware IRS tax season schemes operating in the Acadiana area.
The BBB has received several calls over the last few days from concerned residents inquiring about emails, phone calls and faxes claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service promising them large returns or promises of money owed them from prior tax years.
These are actually phony refund "phishing" scams that use the Internal Revenue Service name to try to steal your personal identity and financial information.
Anyone receiving faxes is asked to either disregard and dispose of them or forward them to the BBB of Acadiana.
As for the phone and email scams, they are effective because they direct residents to a web address looks like a legitimate government website, but instead, you are bounced to a scammer's look-alike website.
Scam phone calls tell consumers they are entitled to a refund, but they must first pay money in order to have their returns amended, then ask or credit card or banking information.
Consumers receiving these emails are asked to copy and paste a URL website address into your browser to make your refund claim, or click on a link.
Consumers directed to the fake IRS sites are asked to submit information, such as Social Security and credit card numbers in order to make a tax refund claim on the bogus IRS website.
According to the IRS, there are websites in at least 20 different countries hosting multiple variations of this popular identity theft scheme.
Quick Tip-Offs to the Scam:
- The IRS does not use email for correspondence with taxpayers about refunds.
- The IRS reports that it does not ask for personal identity or financial information by unsolicited email.
Other current IRS scam emails or faxes may claim that you can get $80 by filling out a customer satisfaction survey for the IRS. The survey asks for personal identity and financial information, which is then used for identity theft.
Scare versions of the scam ask the recipient to respond to an IRS "investigation" about some kind of tax fraud that he or she supposedly committed. The victim is asked to click on a link to learn more. This may download a "Trojan Horse" virus, allowing a stranger to gain remote access to your computer.
The BBB of Acadiana offers the following tips to help avoid this and other IRS scams:
- If you are unsure whether or not the IRS is actually trying to contact you about a tax return or refund, call them directly at (800) 829-1040. This way, you know you are actually dealing with the IRS and not scammers.
- Remember that the IRS does not contact anyone by email. Do not click on any links or attachments that come with the phony IRS email.
- Do not provide any personal identity or financial information in response to emails that supposedly come from the IRS.
The BBB of Acadiana works for a trustworthy marketplace by maintaining standards for truthful advertising, investigating and exposing fraud against consumers and businesses. Please contact the BBB at www.acadiana.bbb.org or (337) 981-3497 24 hours a day for information on businesses throughout North America.
The BBB of Acadiana services the parishes of Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin, St. Landry and Vermilion.
**Taken from an email received directly from the BBB Lafayette on 2/13/2013.