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Watch out for tax scams as Tax Day approaches

April 15 is almost here, but that doesn’t mean consumers can’t get scammed by unscrupulous tax preparers.

Income tax“Tax scams peak around tax filing day,” Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said. “We cannot stress enough to watch out for those who promise faster turnarounds, bigger refunds, or credits. What looks like a good deal at first, could cost you more in the long run.”

The Internal Revenue Service points out scams to be aware of this year:

  • Identity thieves are using people’s Social Security numbers or other identifying information to fraudulently file tax returns and claim refunds.
  • Fake e-mails, known as phishing, from the IRS are being used to attempt to obtain confidential personal and financial information so the sender can steal consumers’ identity. Never respond to these e-mails or open the attachments.
  • Unscrupulous tax preparers prey on taxpayers by encouraging consumers to claim false information for larger refunds, which can result in fraud or theft.  
  • Scammers often promote that “free money” is available from the IRS and claim that securing this money requires little or no documentation. Some even guarantee fraudulent Social Security refunds or rebates.

To avoid becoming a victim this tax season, the Attorney Generals Office’s offers these tax safety tips:

  • Be wary of offers to split your refund in exchange for filing your return.
  • When you file your taxes electronically, use a software provider that’s authorized by the IRS. If using a tax preparer, make sure they’re authorized to do so by the IRS.
  • Look out for unsolicited offers to prepare your taxes from an unfamiliar company or one that’s located far away.

Pruitt reminds taxpayers that they’re responsible for what’s on their returns even if someone else prepared it for them.

If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is, he said. Staying alert and being cautious can help prevent costly mistakes.

If you think you may be at risk or have been a victim of tax fraud, contact the IRS at 800-908-4490. If you have questions about your taxes, visit www.IRS.gov or call or visit your local IRS office.

Copyright 2013, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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