(KFVS) - Tax season is in full force, but so are scammers.
That is why the IRS is saying watch out for ploys to steal your personal information.
Here is a closer look at some of the top ways criminals are working to scam you out of your hard earned cash.
Identity Theft: Identity theft tops this year's list of tax scams. The IRS says keep your social security number private, otherwise criminals are aggressively using them to file fraudulent returns.
Phone Scams: Phone calls from criminals impersonating IRS agents remain an ongoing threat to taxpayers. The IRS has seen a surge of these phone scams in recent years as scam artists threaten taxpayers with police arrest, deportation and license revocation, among other things.
Phishing: Taxpayers need to be on guard against fake emails or websites looking to steal personal information. The IRS will never send taxpayers an email about a bill or refund out of the blue. Don't click on one claiming to be from the IRS.
Return Preparer Fraud: Be on the lookout for unscrupulous return preparers. The vast majority of tax professionals provide honest high-quality service. But there are some dishonest preparers who set up shop each filing season to perpetrate refund fraud, identity theft and other scams that hurt taxpayers.
Offshore Tax Avoidance: The recent string of successful enforcement actions against offshore tax cheats and the financial organizations that help them shows that it's a bad bet to hide money and income offshore. Taxpayers are best served by coming in voluntarily and getting caught up on their tax-filing responsibilities
Inflated Refund Claims: Taxpayers need to be on the lookout for anyone promising inflated refunds. Be wary of anyone who asks taxpayers to sign a blank return, promises a big refund before looking at their records, or charges fees based on a percentage of the refund. Scam artists use flyers, advertisements, phony store fronts and word of mouth via community groups.
Fake Charities: Be on guard against groups masquerading as charitable organizations to attract donations from unsuspecting contributors. Contributors should take a few extra minutes to ensure their hard-earned money goes to legitimate and currently eligible charities.
Falsely Padding Deductions on Returns: Taxpayers should avoid the temptation of falsely inflating deductions or expenses on their returns to under pay what they owe or possibly receive larger refunds.
Excessive Claims for Business Credits: Avoid improperly claiming the fuel tax credit, a tax benefit generally not available to most taxpayers. Improper claims generally involve failures to participate in or substantiate qualified research activities and/or satisfy the requirements related to qualified research expenses.
Falsifying Income to Claim Credits: Don't invent income to erroneously qualify for tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit. Taxpayers are sometimes talked into doing this by scam artists. Taxpayers are best served by filing the most-accurate return possible because they are legally responsible for what is on their return. This scam can lead to taxpayers facing big bills to pay back taxes, interest and penalties. In some cases, they may even face criminal prosecution.
Abusive Tax Shelters: Don't use abusive tax structures to avoid paying taxes. Everyone should be on the lookout for people peddling tax shelters that sound too good to be true. When in doubt, taxpayers should seek an independent opinion regarding complex products they are offered.
Frivolous Tax Arguments: Don't use frivolous tax arguments in an effort to avoid paying tax. Promoters of frivolous schemes encourage taxpayers to make unreasonable and outlandish claims. The penalty for filing a frivolous tax return is $5,000.
Perpetrators of illegal scams can face significant penalties and interest and possible criminal prosecution.
For more information about how to keep your personal information safe, click here.