It is tax season, and the opportunity to profit from thousands of dollars in refund money brings out tax scammers in droves. To protect taxpayers, the IRS has released its ‘Dirty Dozen’ tax scams for the 2015 filing season — and phishing continues to be one of the biggest offenders.
According to Bankrate, the list is compiled annually, and warns taxpayers of the most common tax scams they need to avoid.
The scams can be online, by email, in person, or by phone. Some people are even scammed by their tax preparers.
To make things worse, tax scam victims can find themselves in trouble with the IRS for not filing a proper return after scammers have filed fraudulent returns with stolen personal information.
The IRS warns taxpayers to watch out for fake emails or websites that can steal taxpayers’ personal information.
“The IRS won’t send you an email about a bill or refund out of the blue,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
“Don’t click on one claiming to be from the IRS that takes you by surprise. I urge taxpayers to be wary of clicking on strange emails and websites. They may be scams to steal your personal information.”
According to CNN Money, if you get an unexpected email claiming to be from the IRS or a related agency, such as the federal tax payment system, do not reply to the email. Also, don’t open any attachments or click on any links. Doing so can allow tax scammers access to your personal information or download viruses or malicious code to your computer.
Some common tax scams that taxpayers try themselves are falsely claiming zero wages, “frivolous arguments” to avoid paying taxes, claiming false income and expenses, and impersonating charities.
Hiding money in off-shore banks and claiming false credits are other tax scams the IRS sees frequently.
Although scammers prey on taxpayers with online phishing for personal information used to commit identity theft — the most common tax scam — good old-fashioned phone scams are high on the “Dirty Dozen” list too. Tax scams by phone include calls telling people they are entitled to large refunds but they have to give out personal information to get them, or callers threatening taxpayers that they owe money and could be subject to penalties or even arrest if they don’t “pay up” with a credit card number right away.
If you receive a suspicious email from someone claiming to be from the IRS, report it immediately to Phishing@irs.gov. You can also report suspicious phone calls to the IRS by calling the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at (800) 366-4484.
Are you ready to file your taxes? This Inquisitr report tells you where to get the forms you need, and help filling them out.
[Image via William Vaughn Company]