The Internal Revenue Service is widely known by its three-letter abbreviation, IRS.
Keep in mind, however, that there are tax-related scams out there that can try to capitalize on the agency's name. Such scams are especially common this time of year, as another tax-filing season gets underway.
In this post, we will discuss some of those scams and steps that the real IRS recommends to prevent them.
The scams typically try to get taxpayers to click on a link in an e-mail or give out perosnal information over the phone.
Clicking on a bogus link could open up someone's computer to phishing scams that seek access to personal or financial information. That is why the IRS discourages people from clicking on links or opening attachments in e-mails that claim to be from the IRS.
Indeed, the IRS repeatedly tells taxpayers that it will not make contact with them by e-mail seeking financial information or other personal data.
The same is true of text messages and social media contacts.
The main risk in mistakenly giving our personal information to scammers is that it could result in identity theft.
The IRS has several good reasons for its concern in preventing identity theft. It isn't only that identity theft creates all sorts of problems for people who are victims of it, such as damaged credit ratings. It is also the fact that many cases of income tax refund fraud are connected to identity theft.
In short, then, don't be misled by the mere invocation of the IRS name. It might be a scammer that is invoking it.
Source: IRS.gov, "Watch Out for Tax Scams as Filing Season Opening Nears," Jan. 23, 2014