Be cautious of tax scams

Published 9:44 am Wednesday, March 2, 2016

There is still about a month and a half left until the deadline to file income taxes rears its ugly head.

If the stress of making sure all your paperwork is in order isn’t bad enough, tax scams are becoming more and more common.

The two most reported tax scams are the “IRS” phone scam and tax identify theft.

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Since Jan. 1, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office has received more than 1,400 reports about IRS scams. Most people who report the scam haven’t lost money, but nationally, since October 2013, more than 5,000 victims collectively have paid over $26.5 million as a result of the scam, according to the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

The phone scam involves someone calling and claiming the victim is in debt to the IRS and they must pay immediately or be arrested.

Some victims of the scam are asked to send prepaid money cards while others are asked for personal information over the phone.

These calls can be scary for someone, possibly a senior citizen, who is being threatened with jail time. It’s important to remember that the IRS will not call you to demand immediate payment without sending written information.

In a tax identity scam, an imposter will file a fraudulent tax return using a victim’s Social Security number in order to get that person’s refund.

Unfortunately, it would be nearly impossible to know if someone has your personal information, until you actually become the victim of identity theft. Be sure to protect your information if you use online tax preparation sites. Use a secure Internet connection and avoid using free public Wi-Fi.

If you’re going through a tax preparer, make sure to check that person’s credentials before you give them any personal information.

Taking extra precautions may seem time consuming now, but it is far less hassle than trying to regain your identity once someone has taken advantage.

If you suspect you’ve been the victim or target of a tax scam, contact the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at or 800-366-4484.