Attorney General, Revenue Services, and Consumer Protection Commissioners Warn Against Fraud, Identity Theft, and Scams During Income Tax Filing Season
(Hartford, CT) – With tax season now in full swing, Attorney General William Tong, Revenue Services Commissioner Mark Boughton, and Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull shared tips to protect against identity theft and fraud. Every year, fraudsters and scammers take advantage of tax season to steal refund checks, divert payments, and steal identities.
Attorney General Tong, Commissioner Boughton, and Commissioner Seagull urged taxpayers to take advantage of reputable, free tax filing assistance from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Department of Revenue Services (DRS), and community organizations. Connecticut’s direct filing portal, the Taxpayer Service Center, is an easy, secure, and free option to use to file a Connecticut individual income tax return.
“Don’t let scammers cheat you out of your tax refund. The IRS and state DRS will never call or email seeking immediate payment. Free help is available, but tax preparers cannot get you a larger or faster refund than you are due. If you receive a suspicious offer or demand, hang up the phone immediately,” said Attorney General Tong.
“Unfortunately, bad actors are becoming more sophisticated in the lengths they will go to gain access to your information,” said Revenue Services Commissioner Mark Boughton. “Tax fraud and refund theft are serious challenges on this front. As more transactions move online because of convenience and necessity, income tax filing season is a good time to remind residents to be vigilant and aware of potential schemes.”
“Tax filing season is a prime time for scammers to take advantage of people, but there are a few easy steps you can take to make sure you don’t fall victim to these tactics,” said DCP Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull. “Take a few minutes to research your tax preparer, be cautious when opening emails that offer tax services and always use a secure internet connection when filing your taxes online.”
• 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 $72,000, 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 2-1-1 of Connecticut and ‘Free Tax Help’ for options near you.
Taxpayers should note that in-person assistance remains suspended, or extremely limited, at many locations, in order to protect health and safety during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Paid Tax Preparers: Permit Requirement
The State of Connecticut requires non-exempt paid tax preparers to receive a permit from DRS. To verify the license of a tax preparer, visit Hiring a Tax Preparer and 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 3,000 paid tax preparer registration applications have been certified.
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 Connecticut income tax refund and unusual activity indicates the possibility of identity theft, you will be notified by DRS letter. The notice will prompt you to verify your identity online by answering certain questions before the 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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. DRS also offers remote assistance by videoconference, upon request.