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These emails about QuickBooks software are actually a phishing scam

By Emily Valla

Special to the Idaho Statesman

Scammers are always looking for new twists on common scams, especially when it comes to phishing emails. These emails are meant to trick you into clicking a link and either providing personal information or downloading viruses or malware.

The Better Business Bureau has learned that a new version of this con is circulating as an email alert supposedly about the accounting software QuickBooks. While anyone may receive this email, scammers are specifically targeting small businesses.

Here’s how this scheme works. You receive an email with the subject line “QuickBooks Support: Change Request.” The message is “confirming” that you changed your business name with Intuit, QuickBooks’ manufacturer. However, you never made such a request. You think it must be a mistake, but fortunately the email contains a link to cancel.

Pause before you click that. Scammers know you didn’t make this request. The link is simply bait. It downloads malware to your device, which scammers use to capture passwords or hunt for sensitive information on your machine. This can lead to identity theft.

Similar scams also impersonate personal-tax software or banks. Always be wary of unexpected emails that contain links or attachments.

Here are some other ways to spot phishing messages:

▪  Check the reply email address. One easy way to spot an email scam is to look at the reply email. The address should be on a company domain, such as jsmith@company.com. Especially for major companies, be wary of generic addresses from free email providers.

▪  Check the destination of links. Hover over them to see where they lead. Be sure the link points to the correct domain (www.companyname.com), not a variation, such as companyname.othersite.com or almostcompanyname.com. Scammers can get creative, so look closely.

▪  Consider how the organization normally contacts you. If an organization normally reaches you by mail, be suspicious if you suddenly start receiving emails or text messages without ever opting in to the new communications.

▪  Be cautious of generic emails. Scammers try to cast a wide net by including little or no specific information in their fake emails. Be especially wary of messages you have not subscribed to or companies you have never done business with in the past.

▪  Don’t believe what you see. Just because an email looks real doesn’t mean it is. Scammers can fake anything from a company logo to the “Sent” email address.

▪  Have a process in the office. Make sure employees know to not click links in unexpected emails. Tell them who they should ask if they seek to verify emails they’re uncertain about, and encourage them not to make “quick fixes” that could be costly.

Emily Valla, emily.valla@thebbb.org, is the Idaho marketplace director for the Better Business Bureau Northwest. To check a business or report a scam, go to www.bbb.org or call (208) 342-4649.


Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/news/business/biz-columns-blogs/article126484784.html#storylink=cpy

 

Gini Carter
2017 IRS News
Find out why your tax return is due on April 18 in 2017. For more information, go to https://www.irs.gov/filingbasics

https://www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/irs-and-partners-look-to-start-of-2017-tax-season-encourage-use-of-irsgov-and-efile-warn-of-refund-delays

IRS and Partners Look to Start of 2017 Tax Season; Encourage use of IRS.gov and e-File; Warn of Refund Delays

IRS YouTube Videos
When Will I Get My Refund: English | Spanish
Claiming EITC or ACTC? Your Refund May Be Delayed: English

IR-2017-01, Jan. 5, 2017 

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service and partners from the states and tax industry today reminded taxpayers that the nation’s 2017 individual income tax filing season opens Jan. 23.

The IRS expects more than 153 million tax returns to be filed this year and taxpayers have until Tuesday, April 18, 2017, to file their 2016 tax returns and pay any tax due. The deadline is extended because the Emancipation Day, a holiday in Washington, D.C., will be observed on Monday, April 17, pushing the nation’s filing deadline to April 18.

"There are a number of important changes this year involving refunds and tax law changes that we encourage people to keep in mind," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “We encourage taxpayers to plan ahead and take a few minutes to review these changes. As we enter the filing season, taxpayers should know that the dedicated workforce of the IRS and the nation's tax community stand ready to help." 

Taxpayers that are e-filing can still submit returns to their software provider before Jan. 23. They will hold the return and transmit it to the IRS when the systems open. The IRS also reminds taxpayers that they don’t have to wait until Jan. 23 to contact their tax professional.

In 2016, the IRS issued 111 million individual tax refunds and expects more than 70 percent of taxpayers to receive a refund in 2017. Also, the IRS reminds taxpayers that a new law requires the IRS to hold refunds claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until Feb. 15.

"We encourage taxpayers to file as they normally would, including returns claiming the EITC or ACTC” Koskinen said. “The IRS and the nation's tax community are committed to making  this another smooth filing season."

e-File and Free File

More than four out of five returns are expected to be filed electronically, with a similar proportion of refunds issued through direct deposit. The IRS encourages taxpayers to plan ahead and take advantage of the online resources available on IRS.gov.

Choosing e-file and direct deposit for refunds remains the fastest and safest way to file an accurate income tax return and receive a refund. The IRS anticipates issuing more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days from the time returns are received.

The IRS Free File program, available at IRS.gov, opens Friday, Jan. 13. Commercial partners of the IRS offer free brand-name software to about 100 million individuals and families with incomes of $64,000 or less. Seventy percent of the nation’s taxpayers are eligible for IRS Free File.

All taxpayers regardless of income will again have access to free online fillable forms, which provide electronic versions of IRS paper forms to complete and file. This option is  available through IRS.gov and is free.

Protecting Taxpayers from ID-Theft-Related Refund Fraud

The IRS continues to work with state tax authorities and the tax industry to address tax-related identity theft and refund fraud. As part of the Security Summit, the IRS made significant inroads against fraudulent returns in 2016. While working to stop the issuance of fraudulent refunds, the IRS remains focused on releasing legitimate refunds as quickly as possible in 2017.  Thus far, Summit efforts have led to a 50 percent decline in the number of new reports of stolen identities on federal tax returns.

Late last year, Summit leaders detailed new and expanded safeguards for taxpayers in the upcoming 2017 tax season. The 2017 focus revolves around “trusted customer” features that will help ensure the authenticity of the taxpayer and the tax return - before, during and after a tax return is filed. The additional protections will build on the 2016 successes that prevented fraudulent returns and protected tax refunds.

Health Care Basics

Again this year, meeting the tax obligation of the Affordable Care Act for the vast majority of taxpayers will simply mean checking a box to verify everyone on their return has health coverage. For others, IRS.gov/aca features useful information, tips and interactive online tools to help taxpayers with the premium tax credit, the individual shared responsibility requirement and other tax-related provisions of the ACA.

The Affordable Care Act requires that a taxpayer and each member of their family either has qualifying health coverage for each month of the year, qualifies for an exemption, or makes an individual shared responsibility payment when filing their tax returns.

Assistance Filing the Tax Return

More than 90 percent of all tax returns are prepared using tax return preparation software. This software generally includes tax law help along with reminders and prompts about tax breaks and responsibilities. The IRS reminds taxpayers that a trusted tax professional can also provide helpful information about the tax law. Information on tips about selecting a preparer and national tax professional groups are available on IRS.gov.

The IRS urges all taxpayers to make sure they have all their year-end statements in hand before they file their return. This includes Forms W-2 from employers, Forms 1099 from banks and other payers, and for those claiming the premium tax credit, Form 1095-A from the Marketplace. Doing so will help avoid refund delays and the need to file an amended return later.

Delayed Refunds

The IRS expects to issue more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. However, the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act mandates the IRS hold refunds on tax returns claiming the EITC or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until mid-February. The change helps ensure that taxpayers get the refund they are owed by giving the IRS more time to help detect and prevent tax fraud.

The IRS will begin releasing EITC and ACTC refunds starting Feb. 15, but cautions taxpayers that these refunds likely will not start arriving in bank accounts or on debit cards until the week of Feb. 27. The IRS wants taxpayers to know it will take additional time for their refunds to be processed and for financial institutions to accept and deposit the refunds to bank accounts. The IRS reminds taxpayers many financial institutions do not process payments on weekends or holidays, which can affect when refunds reach taxpayers. For EITC and ACTC filers, the three-day holiday weekend involving President’s Day may affect their refund timing.

Where's My Refund? ‎on IRS.gov and the IRS2Go phone app will be updated with projected deposit dates for early EITC and ACTC refund filers a few days after Feb. 15. Taxpayers will not see a refund date on Where's My Refund? ‎or through their software packages until then. The IRS, tax preparers and tax software will not have additional information on refund dates, so Where’s My Refund? remains the best way to check the status of a refund.

Expired Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN)

The PATH Act requires that certain ITINs expire on Jan. 1, 2017. Any ITIN not used on a tax return at least once in the past three years and any ITIN with middle digits of either 78 or 79 (9NN-78-NNNN or 9NN-79-NNNN) must be renewed before a return can be processed. Anyone filing a tax return with an expired ITIN could experience return processing and refund delay as well as denial of some tax benefits until the ITIN is renewed.

An ITIN renewal application could take as long as 11 weeks to process during tax filing season. ITINs are used by people who have tax-filing or payment obligations under U.S. law but are not eligible for a Social Security number.

Help for Taxpayers

The IRS reminds taxpayers they have a variety of options to get help filing and preparing their tax return on IRS.gov. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) offer free tax help to people who qualify. Go to irs.gov and enter “free tax prep” in the search box to find a nearby VITA or TCE site. The IRS2Go Mobile App can help find free tax preparation assistance, check your refund status and more!

All taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax return. Beginning in 2017, taxpayers using a software product for the first time may need their Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) amount from their prior-year tax return to verify their identity. Taxpayers can learn more about how to verify their identity and electronically sign tax returns at Validating Your Electronically Filed Tax Return.

The IRS also reminds taxpayers that a trusted tax professional can provide helpful information and advice about the ever-changing tax code. Tips for choosing a return preparer and details about national tax professional groups are available on IRS.gov.


The IRS warns taxpayers about an increasing number of tax scams in communities across the country. For even more information go to IRS.gov and type "scam" in the search box.

Take Steps Now for Tax Filing Season

https://www.irs.gov/individuals/steps-for-tax-filing-season

Get ready today to file your 2016 federal income tax return.

Print Publication 5273, Take Steps Now For Tax Filing Season (PDF)

Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN)

What You Need to Know

  • Processing delays are likely for filers with expired Individual Tax Identification Numbers.
  • There are two reasons an ITIN would expire December 31, 2016:
     
    • If you have not used your ITIN on a U.S. tax return at least once for tax years 2013, 2014 or 2015 or
    • If your ITIN has the middle digits 78 or 79 (9NN-78-NNNN or 9NN-79-NNNN)

 

What You Need to Do

  • You can renew your ITIN now if it expired and you plan to use it on a U.S. tax return.
  • No action is needed by expired ITIN holders who don’t need to file a tax return next year.
     
  • There are new documentation requirements when applying for or renewing an ITIN for certain dependents.
  • To avoid delays, ensure accurate W-7 and valid ID documents are submitted.
  • Find more information at IRS.gov/ITIN.

 

 

Refunds

What You Need to Know

  • Expecting a refund? Some refunds must be held until February 15.
     
    • According to a new tax law change, the IRS cannot issue refunds before February 15 for tax returns that claim the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit.
    • This applies to the entire refund, even the portion not associated with these credits.
  • The IRS will begin to release EITC/ACTC refunds starting February 15. However, the IRS cautions taxpayers that these refunds likely won’t arrive in bank accounts or on debit cards until the week of February 27. Read more about refund timing for early EITC/ACTC filers.

 

What You Need to Do

  • Be careful not to count on getting a refund by a certain date, especially when making major purchases or paying other financial obligations.
  • You don’t need to wait until February 15 to file your tax return. While the IRS must hold the refund until February 15, it will begin taking the steps it normally does to process your tax return once the filing season starts.
  • File a complete and accurate return and include all known refundable credits with your original return.
  • Check Where’s My Refund on IRS.gov or the IRS mobile app, IRS2Go, after February 15 for your personalized refund status.

 

Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)

What You Need to Know

  • Some taxpayers using a software product for the first time may need to know their 2015 Adjusted Gross Income, or AGI, to e-file their 2016 tax return.
  • When self-preparing your taxes and filing electronically, you must sign and validate your electronic tax return by entering your prior-year AGI or your prior-year Self-Select PIN. Using an electronic filing PIN is no longer an option.

 

What You Need to Do

  • If you have a copy of your 2015 federal income tax return, your AGI is on line 37 of the Form 1040; line 21 on the Form 1040-A or line 4 on the Form 1040-EZ.x
  • Learn more about how to verify your identity and electronically sign your tax return at Validating Your Electronically Filed Tax Return.

 

Protecting Taxpayers

What You Need to Know

  • To better protect taxpayers, the IRS recently upgraded its identity verification process for certain online self-help tools. The purpose is to prevent taxpayer impersonations and account takeovers by identity thieves.

 

What You Need to Do

  • Because the Secure Access platform is more rigorous, it helps if you prepare to register in advance.
  • The new authentication is currently being applied to Get Transcript Online.

 

IRS Help

What You Need to Know

  • All IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers now operate by appointment only.
  • Many questions can be resolved on the IRS.gov website without visiting a TAC.

 

What You Need to Do

  • Start with IRS.gov for help including tools, filing options and other services and resources.
  • If you believe your tax issue cannot be handled online or by phone, always check IRS.gov for days and hours of service as well as services offered at the IRS TAC location you plan to visit. For most services you must call to make an appointment.