William E. Massey– William E. Massey is a senior tax analyst from the Tax & Accounting business of Thomson Reuters. The views expressed are his own. —

Tax scams are prolific especially in these tough economic times. On the plus side, the IRS has been very good at keeping the public informed about the numerous scams it has uncovered. Each year, it issues a “Dirty Dozen” list of the most notorious scams. In addition, it posts detailed information on tax scams on its Internet site www.irs.gov. Here are five tips for avoiding being victimized by tax scammers.

Tip #1

Someone has promoted a way to for me to save taxes. It sounds good but sounds somewhat fishy at the same time. What should I do?

If it sounds fishy, stay away from it. It is probably no good. Check the IRS web site to see if the plan being touted is really a tax scam. In general, only pursue tax strategies put forth by a trusted, seasoned professional, whose credentials can be verified.

Tip #2

I received an e-mail from the IRS claiming I am due a refund. Should I respond?

Do not respond to the e-mail. The IRS does not initiate taxpayer contacts through e-mail. In fact, don’t open any attachment to the e-mail as it may contain malicious software that could infect your computer. The IRS requests that individuals receiving these “phishing” e-mails forward them to the IRS at phishing@IRS.gov. Delete the message after you forward it. These scams can also involve phone calls and faxes.