Same old tax frauds show up every year

March 29, 2009|By Tribune Newspapers

What's worse than paying taxes?

Getting caught in a tax scam.

Every year at tax time, fraudsters come up with new variations on scams involving bogus refunds, fake audits and sure-fire methods to avoid paying taxes.

Whatever the method, the basic aim is to separate you from your hard-earned cash. Some might say the Internal Revenue Service has the same goal, but there's a big difference - if you lose money to a tax scam, you'll still owe your taxes.

You can avoid most tax scams by remembering three basic rules:

* The IRS never sends unsolicited e-mails.

* The IRS never requests passwords, PINs or other secret access information for bank or credit card accounts.

* People who claim that taxes are illegal - and thus you don't have to pay them - are delusional, scammers or both.

If there is any question about the legitimacy of an IRS agent visiting your home - the real ones always call ahead and carry agency photo ID - you can check it out by calling the Treasury inspector-general help line at 800-366-4484.

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