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It's Tax Season – Watch Out For Scams!

Tax-related scams are around all year, but they seem to occur more frequently during the months leading up to April 15th. This year is no exception. Tax-related scams try to steal personal and financial information or money. Some scams try to get tax payers to commit fraud. In this news brief, we describe some of the most prevalent.

Each year, to alert consumers, the IRS publishes their "dirty dozen" list of tax scams. Identity theft continues to top the list, followed by phone scams and phishing scams. This IRS article provides a brief description of each scam and links for more information.

In addition, the IRS has seen a 400% surge in e-mail schemes so far this tax season. These e-mails pose as official communications from the IRS or the tax industry including tax software companies. The emails are looking for information related to refunds, filing status, verifying PIN information, or other personal or tax related information. Links in these emails go to fraudulent sites that look official and that ask either for personal information or get you to download malware. If you receive an email of this sort, don't click on any links in it or respond to it.

Have you seen or heard ads from tax relief companies promising that they can help people reduce their tax debts or help them with other tax problems? What the ads typically don't mention is that they require upfront payment of a large fee. While some companies may actually help, many others can't or won't. The IRS provides programs to help tax payers who have a problem paying their taxes. This article from the FTC has more information.

Being informed about such tax-related scams and staying alert can help you protect your hard-earned dollars and your personal information.