From the Desk of Lauran L. Stevenson.
Last week, the IRS announced its annual “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams. The annual list highlights various schemes that taxpayers may encounter throughout the year, many of which peak during tax-filing season. Taxpayers need to guard against ploys to steal their personal information, scam them out of money or talk them into engaging in questionable behavior with their taxes.
Listed below are the most important ones to look out for:
- Phishing: The IRS will never initiate contact with taxpayers via email about a bill or refund. Don’t click on an email claiming to be from the IRS!!
- Phone Scams: Phone calls impersonating IRS agents remain an ongoing threat to taxpayers.
- Identity Theft: Taxpayers need to watch out for identity theft especially around tax time.
- Return Preparer Fraud: There are some dishonest preparers who set up shop each filing season to perpetrate refund fraud, identity theft and other scams that hurt taxpayers.
- Fake Charities: Be on guard against groups masquerading as charitable organizations to attract donations from unsuspecting contributors. Be wary of charities with names like familiar or nationally known organizations.
- Inflated Refund Claims: Taxpayers should be on the lookout for anyone promising inflated refunds. Be wary of anyone who asks taxpayers to sign a blank return, promises a big refund before looking at their records or charges fees based on a percentage of the refund. Fraudsters use flyers, advertisements, phony storefronts and word of mouth via community groups where trust is high to find victims.