Attorney general issues tax-scam advisory to state


Published: Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 23, 2009 at 10:42 p.m.

Tax-return season has arrived and so has tax-scam season, according to Florida's attorney general.

Bill McCollum issued an advisory this week warning residents about tax-related schemes. In a news release, McCollum urged Floridians to report suspicious behavior.

"As tax season approaches and Floridians get ready to file for tax returns, scams begin to develop and con artists begin looking for ways to take advantage of people," McCollum said. "Floridians can protect themselves by being educated about common schemes and reporting fraud to the Attorney General's Office."

McCollum's office said residents should get the credentials of the tax preparer they plan to use and find out if the preparer belongs to a professional organization that requires continuing education.

Also suggested were getting quotes about fees and finding out if the preparer will represent them to the IRS if they are audited.

A common scam during tax season is phishing.

McCollum's staff said someone may pose over the phone or by e-mail as an IRS agent, bank officer or some other official asking for personal information they claim is required for a refund.

IRS officials said their agency does not send out e-mails asking for information.

Taxpayers who want to check on the status of their refund should go to www.IRS.gov and click on "Where's My Refund."

The Attorney General's Office also offered these tips to avoid becoming a victim of a tax-related scam:

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 Web site 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 www.bbb.org that helps identify legitimate charities.

Do not give money to third parties for income taxes on prizes. A legitimate prize distributor must send prize recipients the IRS form 1099, which states the value of the prize won and must be filed with a consumer's tax return.

Do not let anyone purporting to be an agent for the IRS into your home unless he or she has proper identification.

To file a complaint about a tax-related scam or fraud, call the Attorney General's fraud hotline at 866-966-7226 or file a complaint at www.myfloridalegal.com.

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