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IRS warns against "Dirty Dozen" Tax Scams
LUBBOCK, TX--- As people are working on taxes-- the IRS says beware of different tax scams people will try to get your information.
Most of us are very aware of the importance of protecting our information like social security numbers--
But the IRS is saying people should take extra precaution.
"What'll happen is sometimes their refund will be delayed. Or also they'll get a notice form the IRS saying that they owe money because of the unclaimed income that the person is unaware. That someone else was using their social security number," says Michael Medina, manager at Angela Hightower Income Tax Service.
He says this time of year they see more people coming in from tax phishing scams.
"Be on the lookout kind of safeguard your own information. You know if its somehting suspicious."
He's not the only one warning against income tax scams.
The IRS put out their "Dirty Dozen" scams to be wary of during income tax season.
Including: --pervasive telephone scams --charity impersonators --falifying income...
And big ones you should be aware of all the time... Identity theft and phishing.
"With technology goig the way it is you know they're getting better and better at it. They're maing the emails look more official like its coming directly from the IRS."
Medina says-- the only way the irs will contact you is a letter to your last known address.
"It kind of goes back to common sense... Going back old school shredding all your bills and stuff dont throw stuff directly away in the dumpster."
He even suggests checking your credit report regularly and if something looks wrong, take action immediately.
Obviously-- if you think you're being scammed the irs says to contact them immediately with the problem at phishing@IRS.gov
Medina also suggests-- seeking professional help with your taxes to avoid any mistakes.
Here is the IRS Dirty Dozen list of tax scams for 2014:
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information, such as your Social Security number, to commit fraud. In many cases, a thief uses a legitimate taxpayer's identity to file a fake tax return and claim the refund.
The IRS website has a special section dedicated to identity theft. Taxpayers who believe they are at risk of identity theft through lost information should contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490.
Pervasive telephone scams
In a recent jump in phone scams across the country, callers pretend to be from the IRS to steal money or victims' identities. Some callers say the victims owe money or are entitled to a huge refund while other callers threaten arrest or driver's license revocation.
Phone scammers typically use "common" names to identify themselves and may know the last four digits of the victim's Social Security Number, according to the IRS.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, and you owe taxes, call 800-829-1040. If you know you don't owe taxes, report the call to the Treasury Inspector General at 800-366-4484.
Phishing typically involves unsolicited email or fake websites to prompt victims to divulge personal or financial information. If you receive such an email, report it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The IRS does not contact taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. The agency hasinformation online to help protect the public from email scams.
False promises of "free money"
Scam artists routinely pose as tax preparers during filing season, promising large refunds that people never dreamed they were due in the first place. They advertise through flyers, phony store fronts or even churches.
Some scam victims have lost federal benefits, such as Social Security payments, as a result of unscrupulous preparers reporting false income amounts to the IRS.
Return preparer fraud
About 60 percent of taxpayers use tax professional to prepare their returns. The IRS cautions people to use only preparers who sign returns they prepare and enter their IRS Preparer Tax Identification Numbers.
For tips on choosing a tax preparer, view IRS Fact Sheet 2014-5.
Hiding income offshore
U.S. taxpayers who maintain financial accounts abroad and do not comply with reporting requirements are breaking the law. The IRS works closely with the Department of Justice to prosecute tax evasion cases.
Since 2009, thousands of people have voluntarily disclosed foreign accounts to resolve their tax obligations, according to the IRS. With new foreign account reporting requirements to be phased in over the next few years, it's increasingly harder to hide income offshore, the agency said.
After major disasters, scam artists use a variety of bogus methods to impersonate charities to get money or private information from taxpayers.
If you are a disaster victim with questions about tax relief, call the IRS at 866-562-5227.
False income, expenses or exemptions
Claiming income you did not earn or expenses you did not pay to get larger refundable credits can have serious repercussions. For example, fraud involving the fuel tax credit can reseult in a penalty of $5,000.
Promoters of frivolous schemes encourage taxpayers to make unreasonable and outlandish claims to avoid paying taxes they owe. These promoters risk a variety of penalties, the IRS said.
Falsely claiming zero wages
Filing a phony return to lower the amount of taxes owed typically involves a substitute Form W-2 or a "corrected" Form 1099. Filing this type of return may result in a $5,000 penalty.
Abusive tax structures
These sophisticated schemes take advantage of financial secrecy laws of other countries.
Misuse of trusts
Unscrupulous promoters continue to urge taxpayers to transfer large amounts of assets into trusts. These assets can include not only cash and investments but successful businesses.