Now's The Time: Tax Scams Abound Before April 15th

Thumbing through stacks and stacks of files, James Bohlman says the paper trail from having his identity stolen pales in comparison to the financial nightmare left behind.

"To suddenly see a $20,000 trailer-tractor charged against me and I'm not aware of it," recalls Bohlman of the mess a con-man left behind.

That mess is huge.  And could more problems surface with tax filing time?

"I don't know if he's messed with my IRS tax filings," he says.

CPA Barbara Bass says most identity theft cases are found during tax season.

Barbara Bass: "It's a matching problem, where the IRS says we show that you made money and you didn't report. 'Tell us why?'"

Identity theft is the number one way a con artist can rob you blind. She says nearly 50 percent of her clients have been exposed to some sort of tax scheme.

"Generally these are mail solicitations, but they're primarily telephone -- people canvassing the neighborhood," Bass says.

Another common scam involves Social Security.  Someone offers a refund on all the Social Security taxes you've payed over a lifetime -- for a small fee. Usually about $100.

"If it doesn't come from the federal government via the Social Security Administration, then you're not going to get it back," Bass says.

Then, they've made away with the so called "upfront fee".

Then there's the "I can get you a big refund...for a fee" scheme. A con artist will borrow your Social Security number, then files your paperwork and splits with the cash.

A tough lesson to learn, James says you must safeguard your Social Security number.

Jennifer Brice,  reporting.