Thursday, January 22, 2009

Be Aware Of Tax Scams Says Attorney General

Watch Out For Tax Preparer And Charity Scams

LABELLE, FL. -- Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum has issued a consumer advisory warning Floridians to be on the lookout for tax-related scams. Complaints about fraudulent tax preparers are reported to the Attorney Generals Office each year, as are issues with identity theft and fraudulent charities. The Attorney General also advised consumers to ask about service fees up front and avoid tax preparers who claim they can obtain larger refunds than anyone else.

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 which requires continuing education. Only attorneys, certified public accountants and enrolled agents can represent taxpayers before the IRS in any matter including audits, collections and appeals.

One of the more common scams associated with tax season is "phishing," which occurs when individuals pose as Internal Revenue Service (IRS)  or other government or banking representatives and send consumers e-mails seeking personal information allegedly for the purpose of processing refunds. The emails are usually created to look official and may include subject lines that read "Refund Notice" or similarly misleading phrases.

Another scheme which often surfaces during tax season is the creation of fraudulent charities which email 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.

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:

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