5 Ways To Avoid Tax Scams

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — As tax day draws near, millions of Americans are sweating over their W-2 and 1099 forms and hoping against hope that everything checks out and their tax returns are processed without any headaches or, Heaven forbid, a call or letter from the IRS to explain some questionable figures.

Psychologists have a term for the anxiety that creeps up on Americans every April — they call it “tax phobia,” and it ranks right up there with a fear of snakes, spiders and scary spaces on the list of experiences U.S. adults would prefer to avoid.

If you are indeed, tax phobic, you may want to sit down.

Why? Because there’s yet another tax-related issue to fret about: tax scams.

In the IRS’ list of “Dirty Dozen” tax scams for 2013 released March 26, the tax agency warns consumers to watch out for a “wide range of schemes, especially as April 15 draws closer, and the tax return process grows more frenzied."

"This tax season, the IRS has stepped up its efforts to protect taxpayers from a wide range of schemes, including moving aggressively to combat identity theft and refund fraud," says IRS Acting Commissioner Steven T. Miller. "The Dirty Dozen list shows that scams come in many forms during filing season. Don't let a scam artist steal from you or talk you into doing something you will regret later."

Topping the list is identity theft, in which someone steals your name and Social Security to file a fraudulent tax return and claim a refund. The agency also warns about “phishing,” in which con artists reach out to you via unsolicited emails to “draw out” personal information they can use to commit identity theft.

The IRS says it’s taking aggressive steps to thwart tax-related identity theft. Private security protection groups are getting into the game too.