This is the year of the income tax scam. Be scared.

It's ugly out there this year. Email after email has been showing up in inboxes pretending to be from the IRS. But the IRS does not do email. They only contact you by snail mail. So those emails you see that want your info or say you're due tax refund money are phony as can be.

Now the crooks have moved beyond just the IRS. USA Today reports that Quicken is putting out the red alert over fraud emails claiming to be from TurboTax or other Quicken products. All of them are bogus.

The idea is the same here as with the bogus IRS emails; they want your info. They can get it if you fill out any online forms or even if you click a link within an email. Doing either allows crooks to load a keylogger on your computer that traps your financial info. Then they're able to take over your identity or steal your money.

It's gotten so bad that the IRS lists phishing as one of two top Dirty Dozen tax scams of 2012. I don't want you to be cynical, but you should be careful and be suspicious.

If you use tax prep software to do your own taxes, you should also take heed of these warnings:

  • Do not open any attachments that appear unsolicited from tax prep software companies.
  • Do not load any supposed software update that appears to come to you from the tax prep company. If you do, it may load a keylogger that extracts the info you've already entered into the existing software on your computer.

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust. View More Articles

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