Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is warning Pennsylvanians to be on the lookout for tax season scams. Shapiro says identity theft cases increase during tax season as scammers will use stolen information to file returns and steal peoples' refunds. Some residents have also reported encountering scammers posing as the IRS. In a statement, Shapiro offered these tips for staying safe during tax season:
- Keep your tax paperwork in a safe location.
- Shred any documents that are no longer needed.
- If you’re filing online, make sure you update firewall, antivirus and spyware software.
- Do not leave tax documents in an open, outgoing mailbox.
Also, Shapiro alerted Pennsylvanians to be wary of “phishing” emails in which scammers falsely claim an affiliation with bank or credit card companies, tax software providers or the IRS.
Here are tips to help identify phishing schemes:
- The IRS will never call, email or text you. It’s a scam. Do not respond.
- It contains a link. Scammers may claim they need you to update your account or ask you to change a password. Do not click on links you don’t recognize.
- It contains an attachment. Scammers might send you attachments that download malicious software onto your computer. Do not open suspicious attachments.
- It’s an odd email from a friend. Scammers hack email accounts to leverage stolen addresses. You may receive an email from a “friend” that seems odd. Avoid it, and do not click on any links.
- It has a lookalike URL. The questionable email may try to trick you with the URL. For example, instead of www.irs.gov, it may be a false lookalike, such as www.irs.PA.com.
- If you receive suspicious communications, forward them to email@example.com or contact the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
Shapiro encouraged Pennsylvanians who believe they’ve been scammed to contact the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection at 800-441-2555 or visit www.attorneygeneral.gov to file a complaint.