This year, 2022, heralds one of the busiest, and most chaotic tax seasons, in, perhaps, recent US history. As a direct result of the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) is currently experiencing a huge backlog of tax returns, and document submissions or personal tax inquiries. The IRS has taken measures to address such backlogs, however, at present, their offices are hiring more staff.
Schemes Scams And Identity Theft
Furthermore, as this year marks another COVID-19 era tax season, there are many tax credits and stimulus payments still to be cashed in on. For this reason, identity theft, tax scams, and social security scams are rife. As scammers are opportunistic – the current opportunity of cashing in on unemployment stimulus funds, or family child tax credit seems to have arisen. Various role-players have tried to create added awareness of the current fraudulent schemes and scams that such criminals use to cash in on such initiatives. They also aim at providing information on how consumers can protect themselves from these scams and such ID theft.
The – ‘National Consumer Protection Week’
Besides the IRS itself, which issues various scam alerts, according to The Marshall News Messenger, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is teaming up with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to help educate and promote consumer safety and protection. This will all be done during the National Consumer Protection Week, which ends March 19, 2022.
As such, the BBB aims at creating added awareness of the various scams and schemes that consumers might be victims of in regards to ID theft. This is all being done so in terms of the various COVID-19 pandemic, and the new opportunities the various tax credits, unemployment benefits, and stimulus payments create with such schemers and criminals.
What To Watch Out For
In brief, the BBB offers a lot of practical advice to protect the US consumer from these fraudulent schemes and ploys as well as protecting them from ID theft. They offer the following basic pointers or guidelines in this regard:
- Do not click on links or images in ‘unsolicited’ email – In this way, criminals can place malware on your computer.
- Do not trust the legitimacy of an email or page by the way it looks – The BBB points out that emails, pages, and logos are easy to copy and forge. Be sure that the page or email, as well as the message, is not a fake before you take action (if any) or interact with it.
- Fake Caller IDs – Don’t put too much credence on caller ids. Criminals can manipulate caller IDs to display just about anything they want.
- Research any company you are dealing with – This eliminates the chances of fraud and ID theft. This can be done at bbb.org
- Always protect your passwords – Choose strong passwords for your accounts. Do not give them to anyone – keep them private.
- Don’t be pressured to act – Anybody who pressures you to act is most probably a scammer. The rationale behind this is they do so to reduce the time for people to think rationally.
- Always guard your ID and banking details with vigilance – Don’t reveal your identity or banking details to marketers or any other persons. These details are private – and must be guarded with vigilance.
- Only use a legitimate website to buy from – Look for the proper: “HTTPS” prefix in the web address as well as the lock icon in the address bar to check if the website might be legitimate.