Tax season or scam season?

It's tax season, which means it's prime time for fraud. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says that though tax scams occur throughout the year, such activity increases during tax filing time.

To help raise awareness of the problem, the agency has issued its Dirty Dozen list of tax scams.

The list includes the following: identity theft, phishing, return preparer fraud, hiding income offshore, claims of "free money" from the IRS and Social Security Administration, false and/or inflated income and expenses, false 1099 tax return claims, frivolous arguments, false claims of zero wages, abuse of charitable organizations and deductions, disguised corporate ownership and misuse of trusts.

Although many of these scams involve people illegally obtaining funds from the government, some involve bilking taxpayers directly. If you believe your personal information has been stolen and used for tax purposes, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at (800) 908-4490. For more information, visit the special identity theft page at