Tax scams are no joke, and they’re everywhere. It’s essential that we take the necessary steps to avoid becoming victims of such scams. Now is the time, as tax season approaches, to sort out your finances and make sure that if you hire someone to do them for you, you’re hiring someone who is smart, reliable, and trustworthy. Here are some ways to avoid falling victim to a tax scam.

Tax agencies won’t contact you out of the blue.

If you receive a call, text, or email from someone claiming to be a tax agency, especially one that threatens you, this is a scam. Do not share any of your information with them, particularly about your bank accounts. If someone contacts you and claims to be from your bank, don’t trust them, either.

Be smart about how you use your computer.

Avoid opening strange emails from sources you don’t recognize or clicking any links from someone pretending to be speaking on behalf of a tax or financial institution. Install firewalls and security software on your computer to help protect against hacks and viruses. Encrypt special information if you can.

Keep your personal information personal.

Don’t share your information with anyone you don’t have to, especially on places like social media, where everyone can see what you post. Shred any papers with valuable information on them, and if you keep such paperwork at home, keep it secure under lock and key in a private location.

Keep an eye on your bank accounts and credit score.

This one might seem like a no-brainer, but as the world becomes increasingly more digital, it can be easy to forget to log in online and check your accounts. Look for any unwarranted or suspicious activity, and if you find something, report it right away.

Be aware of the different kinds of scams so you can spot them.

The IRS keeps an updated list of the different tax scams they have discovered. It’s a good idea to read the list and learn the signs. People will send you bogus emails just to get you to click a harmful link or call you, impersonating an IRS employee. If you think you’re being targeted by a scam or that you’ve found one, report it as soon as possible.

Learn the signs and don’t become a victim of scams this year!

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