|March 12, 2010
Media Contact: Jenn Meale
Phone: (850) 245-0150
|en Español||Print Version||Tweet|
TALLAHASSEE, FL – Attorney General Bill McCollum today issued a consumer advisory warning Floridians to be wary of any tax-related scams during the tax filing season. The Attorney General noted that his office frequently receives complaints from consumers who have been scammed by fraudulent tax preparers – individuals without proper training or those who deliberately mislead consumers about their credibility. Identity theft can also be a problem related to filing taxes. The advisory comes on the last day of National Consumer Protection Week and just over one month before the deadline to file taxes.
“With only a month left to file taxes, I urge Floridians to continue to protect themselves, their finances and their personal identification information when filing their tax returns.” said Attorney General McCollum.
Check the Business -To avoid being scammed by a non-legitimate tax preparer, consumers should get the credentials of the tax preparer and ask if he or she belongs to a state board or bar association that requires continuing education. The Attorney General also recommends that consumers ask if the business is open year-round and notes that temporary employees or businesses should raise a red flag.
Shop for Quotes - Consumers should shop around for quotes and ask the tax preparers if they will represent consumers who are audited or pay any audit-related fees. Only attorneys, certified public accountants and enrolled agents can represent taxpayers before the IRS in any matter including audits, collections and appeals.
Phishing - One of the more common scams associated with tax season is “phishing” which occurs when individuals pose as Internal Revenue Service (IRS) representatives or other authorities and send consumers e-mails seeking personal information, allegedly for the purpose of filing returns or processing refunds. The emails are usually appear official and may include subject lines that read “Refund Notice” or similarly misleading phrases. The Attorney General reminded consumers that the IRS does not send e-mails asking for personal information to process refunds. Consumers can visit the agency’s website at http://www.IRS.gov and click on “Where’s My Refund” to check on the status of their refunds.
Fraudulent Charities - A common scam that often surfaces during tax season is the creation of fraudulent charities that e-mail consumers seeking contributions they claim can be written off as tax-deductible. Florida law requires charities to register with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and provide financial information about income and expenditures. Consumers have the right to ask for an organization's financial report and its federal tax identification number which is necessary to claim contributions as tax deductions.
To avoid tax preparation-related scams, Attorney General McCollum recommends the following:
- Consumers should never allow anyone purporting to be an agent for the IRS into their home unless he or she has proper identification.
- Never give out personal identification information to anyone who is soliciting money.
- Do not respond to e-mails asking for information relating to refunds. The IRS’s website is the legitimate source for checking on refund status.
- Research charities before sending them money and do not respond to e-mail solicitations for money. The Better Business Bureau has a charity research page at http://www.bbb.org which helps identify legitimate charities.
Consumers may file complaints about tax-related scams and any other types of fraud by calling the Attorney General’s fraud hotline, 1-866-966-7226, or by filing a complaint online at: http://www.myfloridalegal.com.