For Mark Roberts’ Use: Are you ready for tax season? Unfortunately, criminals are certainly ready, and they’ve been planning their tax season scams for months now. As you prepare to file your return, be on guard against these five common types of tax fraud.

Strange phone calls. If someone calls you, pretending to be from the IRS, hang up the phone right away. Even if the Caller ID says something like “Washington DC” or “Internal Revenue Service”, it is likely a fake phone call. The IRS won’t call you about a problem with your taxes, and they certainly won’t demand money over the phone. They send letters instead.

Phishing. Likewise, the IRS also will not email you. If you receive an email from the IRS, it is probably a fake. Don’t click any links within the email, and most certainly do not enter any information! This is a trick to get you to share your login information. If you’re concerned about your tax situation, talk to your tax professional, or pull up a new tab in your web browser and log into your tax preparation service from there.

Fishy tax pros. Make sure to use a known, widely respected accountant or tax preparation service. In late winter and spring, quite a few phony tax preparers set up shop, temporarily, and then disappear with all of your personal information.

Stolen refunds. What if you file your return, anticipating a refund, and then receive notice from the IRS that you already filed and received a check? This might happen if someone got ahold of your tax information and claimed your refund. Call the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490 to report the problem.

Phony charities. Yes, you can earn a tax deduction for donating to a charity, but be wary of anyone who solicits you for money. Some fake charities choose names that sound quite official, but you can’t claim the deduction if they aren’t approved by the IRS. Before writing any checks, check the IRS website to make sure the charity is real.

Remember, always check credentials of any website or person before giving them your personal information. For other questions related to financial planning, call us to schedule an appointment.