RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – It's Tax season! But you need to worry about more than just meeting the tax deadline. Crooks are looking to cash-in. It's why the IRS has released its list of Dirty Dozen Tax scams. Special Agent Patrick Brown with the IRS is working to protect your money.
"We're like the financial experts in the Federal Law Enforcement community," he said.
Agent Brown says tax time means criminals are working to get your cash.
"The only thing that kind of shocks me and not necessarily shocks me, each year is just the effort they put into making them seem legit," Brown said.
There's a plan to help you -- it's the 2011 IRS list of Dirty Dozen Tax Scams. Agent Brown told us why it's released yearly.
"To notify the public of what we consider the worst of the worse tax schemes that are currently going on," he said.
The list covers it all, from hiding income offshore to identity theft.
Brown says the top scams are the phishing scams and tax preparer fraud. That type of fraud stems from tax preparers putting false information on a return in order to inflate their fee. And if you get one of those phishing emails, remember, you can forward it to the IRS. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
"We are not going to send you an email telling you to provide us with your bank account numbers, your mother's maiden name, your pin number, so that sort of thing should be a red flag to anyone," said Brown.
Crooks also create phony website to try and collect your personal information so make sure you on the correct website, www.irs.gov.
The Dirty Dozen List not only works to protect you from scams but warns not to attempt to get over on the IRS.
"Make sure what you are submitting is correct, do not try to deceive the government because we will generally find out and you could be receive not only penalties but jail time," Brown added.
When in doubt, Special Agent Brown says the best idea is to contact the IRS directly. Also, keep in mind, if you fall for one of these scams, like the return preparer fraud, you are still responsible for paying any taxes you owe. For a look at the Dirty Dozen List and for other tips on how to protect your self, click here for the IRS website.