Tax season is here, and that means tax scam season is also here. Tax refund fraud and scams are expected to exceed 21 billion in 2016. That’s up from 6.5 billion just two years ago, according to the Internal Revenue Service. In an effort to reduce the number of fraudulent returns filed, the IRS warns you can expect its tax returns system to take longer than usual in 2016.

In addition to tax return fraud, tax scams are always a concern around tax season. Tax scams generally target the elderly, often in the form of a phone call from someone claiming to represent the IRS. Scammers often claim the IRS is suing the victim for tax evasion, and will offer to clear up the matter over the phone for a small convenience fee.

Other tax scams involve impersonating charities, identity theft, and phishing. Please talk with family members, about these scams and how they work. As with any potential danger, education is almost always the best safeguard against becoming a victim.

For more information about tax fraud and scams, please visit www.irs.gov. We offer free fraud prevention classes to churches, businesses and civic groups. For more information, please call the Sheriff’s Department at 803-783-8230 or visit www.LexingtonSheriff.com.