Each year the IRS produces its “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams. As criminals become savvier at stealing personal information and scamming people out of their money, taxpayers must be more vigilant than ever. Here are some of the more common scams you may encounter.
Identity theft: The IRS continues to receive fraudulent returns filed with someone else’s social security number each year. While the agency is making progress in finding and prosecuting these criminals, taxpayers must be extremely cautious with their personal information to avoid becoming a victim.
Phishing: Phishing is a scam where criminals try to steal your financial information through the use of legitimate-looking emails or websites. Knowing that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers via email regarding bills or refunds should help you avoid this scam. If you receive a suspicious email, don’t click on it; forward it to phishing@IRS.gov.
Phone scams: This ongoing scam involves criminals who call taxpayers and impersonate IRS agents. Their attempts to get taxpayer information often include threats of police arrest, deportation, and license revocation. The IRS reminds taxpayers that they never demand immediate payment, require a specific form of payment, request card payment over the phone or threaten to involve law enforcement.
Charities: Taxpayers should be aware of a scam where groups pose as charitable organizations to attract donations from contributors. These groups sometimes choose names similar to nationally known organizations so contributors are more apt to open their pocketbooks. Before you donate, check Exempt Organizations Select Check, a tool offered by the IRS that allows you to verify the legitimacy of organizations to which you are considering donating funds.
Awareness is often your best defense to protect yourself from these popular scams.