13 March, 2009



April 15th is almost a month away, and many of us have just begun thinking about filing our income tax returns. It’s important to consider your privacy when preparing your returns. The IRS is warning the public about some common tax-related scams. They only expect the number of these types of scams to grow as the filing deadline approaches. Here are a few examples of common tax-related scams:

Phishing. Phishing scams often take the form of an email that appears to come from a legitimate source. Some scam emails falsely claim to come from the IRS. These emails will often try to scare you into thinking there is an error with your tax filing. These so-called “phishing” emails will typically urge you to visit a site, which will then prompt you to enter personal and financial information that is then sent off to identity thieves. To date, taxpayers have forwarded more than 33,000 of these scam emails, reflecting more than 1,500 different schemes, to the IRS. The IRS
never uses email to contact taxpayers about their tax issues. All valid IRS websites will have a web address that begins with http://ww.irs.gov/.

Scams Related to the Economic Stimulus Payment. Some scam artists are trying to trick individuals into revealing information that can be used to access their financial accounts by making promises relating to the economic stimulus payment, often called a “rebate.” To obtain the payment, eligible individuals in most cases will not have to do anything more than file a 2007 federal tax return.

However, some criminals posing as IRS representatives are trying to trick taxpayers by falsely telling them they must provide information to get a payment.
Whether it’s tax season or any other time of the year, you should exercise caution and approach any offer or service with a healthy dose of skepticism. Con artists know how to win over your confidence with their smooth talk and self-assured manner. Unless you are careful, you may find yourself turning over cash or personal information. Here are some good rules to follow all the time—whether or not you suspect a fraud:

• Don’t believe “something-for-nothing” offers. You get what you pay for.
• Read all contracts and agreements before signing.
• Compare services, prices, and credit offers before agreeing to a deal.
• Do not hesitate to check the credentials of anyone who comes to your door.
• Report all suspicious offers immediately, before someone else can become a victim. And if you’ve been victimized, don’t be embarrassed about coming forward.

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