Camden & Meridew attorney Julie Camden receives calls on a regular basis from taxpayers who have been targeted for tax scams in Indiana. The suspicious contact reported has occurred by mail, email, fax, and telephone, for both individuals and businesses. Even tax professionals have reportedly been targeted.
Identifying and Avoiding Tax Scams in Indiana
Tax scams, false tax returns, and taxpayer identity theft in Indiana have, unfortunately, become a significant problem. In 2014, the Indiana Department of Revenue (DOR) implemented the Identity Protection Program in an effort to protect taxpayers at risk of becoming a victim of a tax scam in Indiana.
The program offers information to taxpayers regarding what to expect when contacted by the DOR and requires taxpayers to complete a brief identity verification quiz before state tax refunds are processed. This system has prevented more than $110 million in false tax returns, according to the DOR, and helps protect against taxpayer identity theft in Indiana.
However, Indiana tax scams as well as fraudulent contacts claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the federal government persist. Taxpayers must educate themselves on how to recognize federal and Indiana tax scams and other suspicious activity in order to avoid becoming a victim of a tax scam in Indiana.
Have You Been Targeted by Tax Scams in Indiana?
Telephone calls are the most prevalent form of suspicious contact reported to Camden & Meridew attorneys. In these cases, individuals receive calls from people who report themselves to be representatives of the IRS. Sometimes the callers even use names and state badge numbers.
The offenders sometimes have personal information about the taxpayer, and sometimes they have no knowledge. The taxpayers are informed that a tax debt is owed and are told payment must be made. Often, victims are instructed that payment must occur by wire transfer or using a preloaded debit card.
The fake IRS agent often becomes insulting and even threatens that the victim is at risk of being taken into custody by police, deported, or having privileges, such as a driver’s license, suspended. In other cases, the IRS agent seeks personal information, claiming a tax refund will be approved once the information is obtained.
How to Avoid Taxpayer Identity Theft in Indiana
The IRS does not call taxpayers and insist upon payment by prepaid debit card, wire transfer, or gift card. Typically, a notice from the IRS will come to you in the mail, indicating what you owe before anyone tries to collect.
In fact, there is an appeal process that allows taxpayers to dispute or correct amounts owed before collections occurs. The IRS also does not threaten arrest or involvement by local police or request that your credit card or debit card number be provided by phone. This piece of knowledge alone can help individuals avoid taxpayer identity theft in Indiana.
Tax Scams in Indiana by Email and Text Message
The IRS reported a 400 percent surge in email phishing in 2016, and this type of fraud remains a problem today. It appears the primary purpose of these emails is to obtain and use personal financial or identification information. These attacks are also directed at tax preparers and tax software companies. The attorneys of Camden & Meridew have even been advised of Indiana tax scams that contact potential victims by text message.
Some of these emails request personal information so the scammer can file false tax returns or otherwise inappropriately use the taxpayer’s identity. In other cases, the emails contain malware or computer viruses that allow hackers to access your personal networks and data. Typically, the IRS does not send emails, and any electronic contact of this nature that claims to be from the federal or state government should be questioned.
What to Do If You Are the Victim of a Tax Scam in Indiana
Avoiding tax scams in Indiana is not always possible. If you think you have been the victim of a tax scam in Indiana, contact the Indiana DOR or the IRS at 1-800-829-3903. The attorneys of Camden & Meridew, P.C. are experienced in tax law and happy to assist with any IRS or Indiana DOR tax issues. For an appointment, please call 317-770-0000 or complete our online contact form.