Tax scams aimed at consumers are now a national epidemic.
Through a seemingly endless array of new and clever schemes, sophisticated crime rings and other assorted crooks manage to cheat individuals, the federal government and states out of millions of dollars each year and keep regulators working to stay one step ahead of them.
Yet there are relatively simple ways for consumers to try to guard against some of the most common scams and for victims to do damage control.
Taking steps to prevent identity theft is a good place to start. One of the most pervasive forms of tax fraud is identity-theft refund fraud, which occurs when scammers use someone else's name and Social Security number to file a tax return and claim a fraudulent refund. This brand of fraud tops the Internal Revenue Service's most recent Dirty Dozen list of common scams.