Monday, March 30, 2009

Avoiding Tax Scams

Tax schemes can lead to many problems for taxpayers. So, here is my best advice on how to avoid tax scams this tax season:
  • Be cautious of any unsolicited e-mails or phone calls asking for personal information – they are usually fraudulent.
  • Be suspicious of anyone contacting you from a company with whom you have a bank or credit card account. If they ask for information, do not give it out. Call the company separately by using the contact number on your statement or back of your credit card.
  • Remember that the IRS will not call you on the telephone and ask for bank or credit card information.
  • Remember that the IRS will never e-mail you. Taxpayers who receive unsolicited e-mail that claims to be from the IRS can forward the message to a special electronic mailbox, They can use instructions contained in an article titled “How to Protect Yourself from Suspicious E-Mails or Phishing Schemes” located at the IRS website. Remember: the only official IRS Web site is located at
  • If you receive an e-mail which contains an official looking logo does not mean it is one. Always verify before providing any personal data, bank accounts or credit card information.
  • Verify the authenticity of information received by contacting the IRS, your tax preparation service, or your bank. Use the contact number provided in your local phone book or known Web site that is provided in your bank statement.
In addition, if you are a victim, report it immediately. Suspected tax fraud can be reported to the IRS using IRS Form 3949-A, Information Referral. Form 3949-A is available for download from the IRS Web site at The mailing should include specific information about who is being reported, the activity being reported, how the activity became known, when the alleged violation took place, the amount of money involved and any other information that might be helpful in an investigation. The identity of the person filing the report can be kept confidential.

If you believe you are a victim of tax fraud, also contact the credit bureau and place a fraud alert on your account. Putting a fraud alert on your credit file is one of the first things you should do if you suspect someone is trying to open credit accounts in your name. When someone tries to open up a credit account in your name by getting a new credit card, car loan, cell phone, etc., the lender should contact you by phone to verify that you really want to open a new account. If you are not reachable by telephone, the credit account should not be opened. This might be something you want to do, even if you do not think identity theft is an immediate threat.

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