The Better Business Bureau has released information about the biggest scams facing taxpayers this year, and how to avoid them. Some are right under your nose.

Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week starts January 31st, and the BBB of the Tri-Cities wants to make sure you don't fall victim to some new scams, others have been around a little longer.

Officials say three of the most common attempts to defraud money from people using tax-related issues include:

  • Imposter Scams:  Scammers pose as IRS agents, and contact people via email or phone. Using spoofing technology which can make your caller ID show the call is from the IRS, they try to pry money out of people by threatening them with criminal charges or jail time. They usually claim some issue from a tax return far enough back that the unsuspecting victim might believe them. Once they obtain personal information they can commit ID theft, some even get people to wire them money. REMEMBER: the IRS will never contact you via phone or email. Almost always by letter in mail.
  • Tax Relief Scams:  Much like the legit ads you hear on the radio, these scammers contact you by phone, letter or email. They promise to reduce or eliminate tax debt or resolve issues, but you almost always have to send them money first. Then they get into the wind, and disappear. IF you choose to utilize any of these businesses, always check them out with the BBB first.
  • ID Theft:  Always prepare or e-file on secure computers, and if you're using Wi-Fi, make sure it's encrypted or password protected. Thousands of people have their identity stolen by hackers or other scammers from tax returns.  Scammers love to hit them, because they contain virtually all of your sensitive personal information.

Using a little caution and common sense can prevent you from falling victim during one of the fastest-growing time of the year for cyber crime, fraud and scamming.

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