How you can protect yourself from scammers this tax filing season

North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN)– With just under two weeks to go before the extended tax filing deadline hits, criminals are pushing hard with their tax scams to try and steal your money or identity. 

Based on what happened last year, there’s a lot of money available out there which scammers are stealing during tax season.

“In 2020, there was a median loss of $3,200 dollars to tax collection scams,” said Catherine Honeycutt of the Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina. 

With the new tax deadline looming on May 17, people need to get their returns filed before a scammer does it for them, which experts say is becoming more common. 

“They can potentially steal your personal information and identity,” said Honeycutt.

If you use a tax preparer who is new to you, here are some things to watch out for: 

  • Check for online reviews/complaints 
  • Ask to see the preparer’s licenses 
  • Get a written contract for services 
  • Determine their availability if you’re audited 

“Are you going to be able to reach back out to them to ask questions if you’re required to pay? ” said Honeycutt. “Find out how easy it is to get in contact with them. That can be a red flag.” 

Refunds are another area where scammers can get you. Watch out for a preparer who makes a big promise or a guarantee you’ll get “X” amount of dollars back as a refund. 

“Tax preparers are not going to make a guarantee,” said Honeycutt. “That’s a big red flag that it’s probably a scam.” 

The IRS advises to never sign a blank return. If a prepare gives you a blank form and says details will be filled in later, walk away immediately. 

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