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400% jump in email scams this tax season; what to look for

A variety of health care tax forms are

A variety of health care tax forms are seen in this Aug. 21, 2014 photo. It's tax time, so think twice before you click on any links in any email related to your finances: It could be a scam, or an attempt to steal confidential information. Credit: AP / Carolyn Kaster

Uncle Sam isn’t the only one after your money this tax season. Scammers are looking to collect cash, too.

“Most states have slowed the state refund process as they work to combat identity theft. The IRS’ most recent alert indicates a 400% increase in email tax scams this filing season over the last filing season,” says Trenda Hackett, a CPA with Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting in Hoboken, New Jersey.

What are some red flags? If you get a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS or to be a New York State Treasury agent, hang up. Be leery of any emails allegedly from the IRS, even if it looks “official.” The government loves snail mail.

The risk could be closer to home than you think: Besides someone trying to scam you from a distance, the person trying to take advantage of you could be your own tax preparer.

“There are shady tax preparers who make up information in order to give their clients a larger tax refund. This makes them look good and leads to referrals,” says Joshua Zimmelman, president, Westwood Tax & Consulting LLC in Rockville Centre.

If you owe penalties related to the Affordable Care Act, don’t fall victim to a tax preparer who says you should write the check to him.

For more on what to look out for, https://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-Wraps-Up-the-Dirty-Dozen-List-of-Tax-Scams-for-2016.

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