ATTORNEY GENERAL, REVENUE SERVICES AND CONSUMER PROTECTION COMMISSIONERS WARN AGAINST FRAUD, IDENTITY THEFT AND SCAMS
Attorney General William Tong, Revenue Services Commissioner Scott Jackson, and Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle Seagull cautioned taxpayers today to remain vigilant on multiple fronts about identity theft, unscrupulous preparers, and scams related to the filing of their tax returns. With changing technology, fraudsters and cybercriminals are deploying more sophisticated methods in hopes of confusing taxpayers, stealing their personal information, and taking their money.
However, taxpayers can take a number of commonsense steps to keep their identity and personal information safe. Free tax filing assistance is available from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Department of Revenue Services (DRS), and community organizations. In addition, , as explained below, taxpayers should be aware of a provision in state law, effective January 1, 2019, that establishes qualifications for paid income tax preparers.
"Don't ever let a scammer cheat you out of your tax refund. The Department of Revenue Services and the Internal Revenue Service will never demand your personal information or threaten arrest on the phone or via email. If you receive a suspicious call, email, or text message regarding your taxes and you aren't sure what to do, my office is here to help," said Attorney General Tong.
"Filing your taxes as early as possible remains one of the best preventive measures against fraud,” said Revenue Services Commissioner Jackson. “If you prepare your own state tax return – and even if you prepare your federal return using commercial software – Connecticut’s direct filing portal, the Taxpayer Service Center, is easy, secure, and free to use.”
“If you need support completing your tax return, always ensure that you’re working with someone you can trust who has the credentials they say they have,” said Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Seagull. “If someone promises they can get you a refund much larger than you were expecting, remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you’ve already filed your taxes, but are getting calls or communications from the DRS or IRS asking you for money – hang up. It’s a scam.”
- Never give your personal information to someone you do not trust, or someone who is pressuring you.
- If you receive an email claiming that you owe money or offering tax services, do not click on any links, and close the email. You may also notice misspellings, impersonations of a legitimate company, and phrases like “limited time offer” that do not apply to taxes.
- If someone calls, texts, emails, or just leaves a message saying you owe money – ignore it. If you think you might owe money to the DRS or IRS, do not use the contact information left for you. Rather, use the contact information that you know to be correct, and follow up with DRS or the IRS yourself.
For federal returns, you can access free income tax filing assistance using the IRS free tax preparation software. If the annual income for an individual or joint return is less than $55,000, or you have a disability or limited English-speaking skills you can also have an IRS-certified volunteer help you prepare your own tax return by using the free IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance tool. Visit the Free Income Tax Assistance page on the DRS website for additional options.
Paid Tax Preparers: Permit Requirement
The State of Connecticut now requires non-exempt paid tax preparers to receive a permit from DRS. To verify the license of your tax preparer, visit Hiring a Tax Preparer or the DCP’s Verify a License, Permit or Registration.
All non-exempt, paid tax preparers who prepare more than 10 Connecticut income tax returns or more than 10 federal income tax returns for Connecticut clients or a combination of both, must obtain a permit from the DRS. To date, more than 1,650 paid tax preparers have registered.
DRS Refund Protection Program
The DRS also administers a tax refund protection and verification program to curb identity theft and the issuing of fraudulent refunds. If you are due a state income tax refund and unusual activity indicates the possibility of identity theft, you will be notified by letter. The notice will prompt you to verify your identity online by answering certain questions before the state tax refund is issued.
If you believe you have been the victim of a scam or have been contacted by a scammer, contact the Office of the Attorney General at 860-808-5318 or email@example.com.
If you have questions about authenticity of a DRS letter, call DRS at 860-297-5962 (from anywhere) or 800-382-9463 (outside the Greater Hartford calling area), weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.