Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2012

The Internal Revenue Service today issued its annual “Dirty Dozen” ranking of tax scams, reminding taxpayers to use caution during tax season to protect themselves against a wide range of schemes ranging from identity theft to return preparer fraud. Here are 4:

Identity Theft

Topping this year’s list Dirty Dozen list is identity theft. In response to growing identity theft concerns, the IRS has embarked on a comprehensive strategy that is focused on preventing, detecting and resolving identity theft cases as soon as possible. In addition to the law-enforcement crackdown, the IRS has stepped up its internal reviews to spot false tax returns before tax refunds are issued as well as working to help victims of the identity theft refund schemes.

Phishing

Phishing is a scam typically carried out with the help of unsolicited email or a fake website that poses as a legitimate site to lure in potential victims and prompt them to provide valuable personal and financial information. Armed with this information, a criminal can commit identity theft or financial theft.

Return Preparer Fraud

About 60 percent of taxpayers will use tax professionals this year to prepare and file their tax returns. Most return preparers provide honest service to their clients. But as in any other business, there are also some who prey on unsuspecting taxpayers.

False Form 1099 Refund Claims

In this ongoing scam, the perpetrator files a fake information return, such as a Form 1099 Original Issue Discount (OID), to justify a false refund claim on a corresponding tax return. In some cases, individuals have made refund claims based on the bogus theory that the federal government maintains secret accounts for U.S. citizens and that taxpayers can gain access to the accounts by issuing 1099-OID forms to the IRS.

Protect yourself!

Protect your information. Secure all data from the moment it arrives in your mailbox. Secure means that your mailbox and file cabinet have locks, or even storing important documents in a fire-resistant safe.

Shred non-essential paperwork. Check with your accountant to determine what you need and what you don’t. Use a cross-cut shredder to destroy unneeded documents.

Go paperless. Whenever possible, opt to receive electronic statements in your inbox. The less paper in your life, the better.

File early. The earlier you file, the more quickly you thwart any criminal’s attempt to file on your behalf and collect your refund. Only file your tax return with the help of a local, trusted, professional accountant whom you know, like, and trust.

Protect your PC. A computer’s operating system should always be updated with the latest critical security patches and you should use comprehensive security software that provides antivirus, anti-spyware, anti-phishing, anti-spam and a 2-way firewall.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Home Security Source discussing home security and identity theft on TBS Movie and a Makeover.Disclosures.

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