CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is reminding consumers to be on the lookout for tax scams or tactics that could jeopardize personal information as consumers work to meet the approaching filing deadline of Tuesday, April 17.
Consumers who are in a rush may easily and inadvertently let information slip through the cracks and into the hands of those with ill intent.
“No matter the rush it is very important for consumers to always handle personal information wisely and responsibly,” Morrisey said. “Scammers are well aware of the vast amount of information shared at tax time and will jump at any opportunity to use it to their advantage.”
Those filing returns should watch for phony or dishonest tax preparers who would jeopardize their personal information. Ask for the Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) and check the U.S. Internal Revenue Service list found athttps://irs.treasury.gov/rpo/rpo.jsf.
Consumers also should be on guard for IRS scam calls. It usually starts with a phone call indicating the U.S. Internal Revenue Service will arrest the consumer if he or she refuses to follow instructions.
Targeted consumers are typically told they owe immediate payment and threats of imminent arrest often follow when the consumer refuses to cooperate or questions the caller’s legitimacy.
IRS impostors will use common names and claim to know the last four digits of a Social Security number.
Consumers should watch for out-of-state telephone numbers, use of automated calling machines, fake government badge numbers, phony email addresses and caller ID information to support their bogus representation.
Additionally, consumers should double check their information and shred any discarded documents that contain personal information. Filing electronically usually is more time efficient, safer and ensures a faster tax refund.
Consumers who believe they may be the victim of tax-related identity theft are asked to contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Office at 1-800-368-8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239 or visit the office online at www.wvago.gov.