Release: Officials Urge Consumers to be Cautious When Filing Taxes
Official encourage consumers to watch out for the latest scams affecting families during Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week
Thursday, February 6th, 2020 – State officials marked Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week by urging families to use caution when filing their taxes, using online tools, and selecting a tax professional.
Scam artists impersonate people that consumers should trust like IRS officials and even tax preparers to gain access to their personal information. In some cases, they may fraudulently file tax returns under a person’s name to gain access to their money. While there are a growing number of new, convenient ways for citizens to file their taxes, there are also more opportunities for them to fall victim to scams.
To avoid falling victim to a scam:
- File early: Filing your taxes early can prevent a scammer from filing with your information.
- Protect your personal information: Never give out your social security number, or personal information to an entity you don’t know or trust.
- Research your tax preparer: If you are using a tax preparer, look for reviews and references first. You should also verify that they are appropriately registered with the Department of Revenue Services (DRS) by visiting www.elicense.ct.gov.
- Pay attention to your mailbox: If someone has filed a tax return fraudulently in your name, you may receive written notice form the IRS that:
- You have a duplicate return; or
- You’ve received wages from somewhere you never worked.
- You may also receive other notices that don’t actually apply to you, such as notice that you owe additional tax, or have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return.
- Contact the IRS if you have any suspicions that a return has been fraudulently filed in your name.
“Scam artists are consistently finding new ways to access our personal information for their own benefit,” said Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull, “We’re urging consumers to take a few extra minutes to ensure that their information is protected, and they are working only with qualified tax professionals they trust.”
“During tax season, taxpayers should remain vigilant on multiple fronts to protect themselves from identity theft, tax scams and unscrupulous preparers. Filing your taxes early is one of the best preventative measures against fraud, and remember that the Department of Revenue Services and the Internal Revenue Service will never demand your personal information. If you receive a suspicious call, email or text message about your taxes, the Office of the Attorney General is here to help,” said Attorney General William Tong.
“The Department of Revenue Services (DRS) takes its responsibility to protect taxpayer personal information seriously and, led by a team of dedicated professionals, is constantly fortifying our systems that identify potential instances of fraud,” said Acting Commissioner of Revenue Services John Biello, “While most people are honest, there are bad actors. During the busy income tax filing season, taxpayers should remain vigilant to schemes targeting their personal information or tax refund. If you receive a communication concerning state taxes administered by DRS that you question, we encourage you to contact the agency immediately.”
“Hartford Public Library (HPL) is happy to partner with the Village for Families and Children as a host site for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) appointments three nights a week and on Saturdays at our downtown library location, 500 Main Street. We encourage the community to take part in this free service. VITA provides free tax preparation services for individuals and families earning up to $56,000 per year in the Greater Hartford, Enfield, Manchester, Vernon and Windham communities,” said HPL Public Services Director Marie Jarry.
“BBB encourages consumers year-round to practice safe data privacy. This is one very important step in preventing tax identity theft,” said BBB Spokesperson Luke Frey, “Regardless of what you’re doing online or over the phone you should always question why someone is asking for your personal identifiable information.”
“Americans are victimized at an alarming rate every year. According to the 2019 Consumer Sentinel Report, Imposter Scams and Identity Theft rank at the top for Connecticut, leaving individuals vulnerable to these thieves. Anyone can become a victim. Educating each other is our best defense to stop the scammers in their tracks. AARP Fraud Watch Network has free up-to-date resources for anyone to learn how to spot and avoid scams with ‘watchdog alerts,’ scam-tracking map, community presentations by trained AARP peer educators, and a toll-free fraud helpline,” said AARP Fraud Watch Network Volunteer Byron Peterson.
Tax information is often targeted through imposter scams, and they are all too common in Connecticut. According to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Sentinel Network data, in 2019, the number one scam reported in the State of Connecticut was imposter scams.
Those who wish to file a complaint, or let the state know about an issue are encouraged to contact us using the information below:
Office of the Attorney General
Anyone who notices or has fallen victim to a scam is also encouraged to report it to the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker.
Department of Consumer Protection
Lora Rae Anderson
(860) 713-6019 (office)
(860) 247-8711 (cell)
Office of the Attorney General
860-808-5324 (media office)
Department of Revenue Services
(860) 297-5606 (office)
Hartford Public Library
Better Business Bureau Serving Connecticut
(860) 740-4502 (office)
(860) 384-5875 (cell)
(860) 548-3164 (office)