Each year, the Internal Revenue Service releases a list of the 12 most popular tax scams for the year. The 2008 list is out, and I thought it would be fun to go through them individually to show you how criminals are trying to take advantage of taxpayers. The basic idea behind all of these scams is simple: prey on a taxpayer’s fear of the IRS or their desire to avoid paying taxes.
Use the information here to help avoid being taken advantage of by a scammer who wants your money. And use this basic rule of thumb for any offer or communication regarding taxes: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t get fooled by claims regarding mysterious refunds or tax bills. When in doubt contact the IRS directly for help with your situation.
Phishing is an email scam that is exactly what it sounds like: A scammer is fishing to get private information about you. In this type of scam, you receive an email saying that there is a problem with your tax account or that there is a refund you’re due… but more information is needed from you to resolve the situation.
You’re told to click on a link that very often takes you to a site that looks exactly like it’s the real IRS site. The web address you see in your browser might look legitimate too. On these bogus sites (that look real), you’re asked to enter all sorts of personal information: name, address, social security number, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, pin numbers, passwords,mother’s maiden name, and other sensitive information.
Once you give them this information, they have enough to steal your identity, open accounts in your name, drain your bank account, or make fraudulent charges on your credit card.
Never, ever click on a link in an email that purports to be from the IRS. The IRS simply does NOT contact taxpayers in this manner. If you do receive an email and you’re worried that you might really have a tax problem, contact the IRS directly using the contact information on the legitimate IRS website: irs.gov.