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Taxpayer Carlos Jimenez files his tax returns at the H&R Block branch in the Echo Park district of Los Angeles. Using established tax preparers is one way to avoid scams during tax-preparation season. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Taxpayers need to be aware of scams
First Published Jan 28 2014 07:15 am • Last Updated Jan 28 2014 07:15 am

Tax time can sometimes mean scam time.

That’s why the Internal Revenue Service is warning those who are preparing to file their taxes beginning Friday that tax-related scams are common this time of year.

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In a nutshell, the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. The agency said this includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels.

The organization also will not ask for personal identification (PIN) numbers, passwords or similar access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts.

In a news release, the agency said that anyone receiving an email purporting to be from the IRS to not open any attachments or links and, instead, forward the email to www.phishing@irs.gov. For information on how to report these phishing scams, log on to www.irs.gov/uac/Report-Phishing.

Tax scams can include perpetrators posing as the IRS in everything from email refund schemes to phone impersonators.

The IRS offered these suggestions to protect yourself against scams and identity theft:

• Don’t carry your Social Security card or any documents that include it or your Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.

• Don’t give a business your Social Security Number or Taxpayer Identification Number just because they ask. Give it only when required.

• Protect your financial information.

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• Check your credit report every 12 months.

• Secure personal information in your home.

• Protect your personal computers by using firewalls and anti-spam/virus software, updating security patches and changing passwords for Internet accounts.

• Don’t give personal information over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you have initiated the contact and are sure of the recipient.

• Be careful when choosing a tax preparer. While most provide excellent service, a few unscrupulous return preparers file false and fraudulent tax returns and ultimately defraud their climates. Even if someone else prepares your return, you are ultimately responsible for all the information on the return.


Twitter: @tribtomwharton

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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