ALBANY State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman warned consumers Wednesday to beware of tax-preparation scams with this year's tax deadline less than one month away.
Each year, scammers prey on consumers, often college student and seniors, by impersonating tax authorities to obtain their personal information that can be used to steal people's identities. The Internal Revenue Service has received thousands of reports of scams this year before the April 15 filing deadline, Schneiderman said.
"Tax season is stressful enough. New Yorkers trying to file their taxes on time should not also have to worry about being ripped off by tax scammers," Schneiderman said in a statement. "Taking advantage of vulnerable people in this tough economy is shameful."
Often, scammers will call a consumer impersonating a tax authority and demand money or personal information, like a consumer's Social Security number.
To avoid scams, the attorney general's office advised that the IRS and government agencies would never demand payment by phone and consumers should never give out personal information over the phone. If a consumer owes money, a notice in writing would be sent. Legitimate government organizations would never threaten arrest or deportation for failure to pay a debt.
A new scam was reported to the attorney general's office targeting new U.S. citizens. It was reported a scammer called a new U.S. citizen claiming to be from the IRS and told the resident he had failed to pay taxes on money sent to his wife overseas and threatened him with deportation if he failed to pay fines over the phone.
To help consumers file tax returns safely, Schneiderman recommended using only established tax-preparation services that are qualified through the Better Business Bureau, to never sign a blank return and to review an entire return before signing.
Consumers who believe they have been victim of a tax preparation scam can file a complaint online, http://www.ag.ny.gov/complaint-forms or call 1-800-771-7755.