Tax Appeal
Tax Appeal
Tax Appeal

Homeowners from all over the country will be receiving their property tax bills in the next few weeks. They will have until January 4th to appeal them. It’s the perfect time for scammers to come crawling out of the woodwork.

They already have, according to a recent story from Baltimore, Maryland’s ABC2News. The article advises caution when receiving solicitations from third-party businesses offering to file your tax appeal for a fee. Over 400 Maryland homeowners made inquiries to the Better Business Bureau after receiving unsolicited letters, asking for a $99 fee, along with the tax appeal petition.

This is just one of countless cases of tax scams from all over the country.

The Irs.gov website is swarming with hackers, phishers, and impostors.

Here’s a selection of common real estate scam:

Phishing Scam

A counterfeit message from the IRS requests professional tax payers to update their portal information and Electronic Filing Identification Numbers. The links in the counterfeit email are a phishing scheme to record your password and username. This message does not come from the IRS. Disregard the email, and do not click the links!

Telephone Scam

A complex and widespread phone scam aimed at taxpayers, including people who have recently immigrated to the United States, has been going around recently. The phone claims claim to be from the IRS, but they’re not. They can sound authentic on the phone. They use aliases and falsified identification numbers. They may possess a lot of information on the subject, and they can even change the ID to make it appear as if they are the IRS.

The intended victims are told they owe back taxes which must be paid right away, either with a pre-paid debit or credit card or via wire transfer. If the target won’t participate, they are  threatened with arrest, suspension of a business or driver’s license, or possibly even deportation. In certain instances, the caller can become aggressive and offensive.

Targets may also be informed they have a refund, to get them to divulge private information.

If you don’t pick up the phone, the scammers may leave an urgent callback request.

Update Your e-file Phishing Scam

There’s another phishing scam going around. Emails appearing to come from the IRS link to a bogus web site, which is a mirror to the IRS site. These message contain directives telling the taxpayer to update their e-file immediately. The emails mention USA.gov and IRSgov (without a dot between “IRS” and “gov”), though notably, not IRS.gov (with a dot). Don’t get scammed. These emails are not from the IRS.

These are just three of the most recent. The list goes on and on.

How To Spot Fraud

Tax scams are plentiful and creative. It can be difficult to differentiate from the real thing, especially with clever hackers hacking the IRS e-mail server. It can be tempting to succumb to paranoia, but instead, why not learn what to look out for, so you can avoid tax appeal scams like poison ivy.

  • If it’s too good to be true, it probably is
  • Suspect phone calls. The IRS will never demand payment over the telephone
  • The IRS will always opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe, and will never demand immediate payment.
  • Require you to pay your taxes in a specific way, such as a pre-loaded debit or credit card.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • Threaten to have you arrested for not paying back taxes.
  • E-mail addresses from IRSgov, without the dot between the ‘s’ and the ‘g’
  • Letters from private companies that are designed to look as if they are from government agencies.
  • Offers to file a challenge of an assessment — for an upfront fee.
  • Services that request a certified copy of your property deed.
  • Companies that ask for your Social Security number.

As those property tax bills come rolling in, scammers are going to be ready to strike, counting on the fact that most people will be either too intimidated or too busy to file the length appeal process themselves. If a third-party company asks you for money to file your tax appeal remember, it is possible for every homeowner to appeal their home’s assessment, free of charge.

If you have reason to believe that you have been contacted, or taken advantage of, by a scammer, please send a completed referral form, along with any promotional materials to the Lead Development Center.

Want to work with tax professionals you can trust? Contact us today!