Top tips to help you avoid the dirty dozen tax scams this year

Uncle Sam wants you and so do identity thieves!

With tax season here, it’s easy to feel a little nervous and stressed. While nobody likes to pay taxes, even more, nobody likes to be scammed. With the April 15 filing deadline for taxes almost here, last minute filers are at risk for being scammed.

The Center for Internet Security (CIS) offers tips to keep yourself from being caught in one of the many tax scams out there. With identity theft and phishing scams still ranking among the top security concerns, email scams are still at the top for ways scammers can take advantage of you.

Pay attention to emails that offer subject lines about taxes, filing taxes, tax laws, financial loss, damage to reputation. One popular phishing scam includes a subject line about changes in tax laws and invites the recipient to download a document to explain the changes. Once downloaded, the malware in these documents can damage your computer and steal your personal information.

The IRS releases a list of “Dirty Dozen Tax Scams” each year and includes tips about how to protect yourself from online and  phone scams. One popular scam is criminals who call unsuspecting citizens, impersonating charities and asking for donations.

Here is important information to know to avoid being taken in by scammers this tax season:

  • Don’t answer emails from the IRS. The IRS will not initiate email correspondence and definitely will not email you to request financial information from you. All correspondence is done through the United States Postal Service. If you receive emails that tell you your tax refund or payment has been declined or any other notice about your taxes, it’s a scam. Don’t open it and instead simply delete it. If you have questions about your taxes, go right to the source — the Internal Revenue Service.
  • Don’t open suspicious emails or click on any links or open any attachments. Do not send personal information in an email.
  • Be careful during searches for tax forms or other tax information. Don’t click on links in emails or on advertisements as these could lead to potential phishing sites.
  • Make sure your anti-virus, spyware, and firewall are turned on and up-to-date.
  • Be careful when using Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is not meant to be secure so be aware when you use it. Potential hackers and scammers could be waiting.

It is impossible to stay totally safe, but with a little knowledge, you can arm yourself and be aware of what to stay away from. Stay safe this tax season by using good judgment.