Identity theft and phishing are listed as two of the most common tax scams facing taxpayers. The Internal Revenue Service released its annual Dirty Dozen list of common tax scams this week.
"This tax season, the IRS has stepped up its efforts to protect taxpayers from a wide range of schemes, including moving aggressively to combat identity theft and refund fraud," IRS Acting Commissioner Steven T. Miller said. "The Dirty Dozen list shows that scams come in many forms during filing season. Don't let a scam artist steal from you or talk you into doing something you will regret later."
This year's list names identity theft and phishing as the top two tax scams affecting tax payers.
Phishing occurs when an unsolicited e-mail or fake website acts as a legitimate site asking for an individual's personal information.
"Identity theft has been a problem and other types of people impersonating others," said Dan Boone, IRS spokesperson. "Return preparer fraud is something we continue to deal with."
Return preparer fraud happens when a tax preparer takes advantage of taxpayers by stealing their identity.
Boone said tax payers should be wary of any IRS contact that may seem suspicious.
"That age-old warning, 'if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,'" Boone said. "The IRS never initiates contact with taxpayers through email, text message or any kind of social media to request private information."
Local accountants agree.
"The biggest issue is the IRS does not e-mail. Never ever do they e-mail," said Denise Hammond of Gray & Hammond Accountants. "The only time they call you is to set up that audit."
Hammond said she finds taxpayers are contacted through other sources pretending to be the IRS.
"The biggest thing is the minute you think something doesn't look right, delete it," she said.
Boone said if tax payers suspect they are becoming victims of tax fraud, they may report it online at through the IRS website.
The Better Business Bureau says a new scam is currently on the Internet.
The scam claims a problem was encountered while processing a tax return and the tax payer would not be able to receive their tax refund.
"In order to learn more about that, you need to click on a link which could lead you to a number to call or they may tell you there's an additional fee you need to pay where you need to give a credit card," said Norma Messer, president of the Better Business Bureau serving Asheville and Western North Carolina. "It may simply allow the people that sent the phishing email the opportunity to get access to your computer."
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