COLUMBUS, Ohio — As tax season approaches, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office reminds residents to watch out for scammers and take necessary precautions to protect your personal information.
The Attorney General’s Office says they have received more than 130 reports of tax-related scams in January.
“Everybody loves a tax refund – especially bad guys, who want yours,” Attorney General Dave Yost said in a press release. “They’re rubbing their hands with glee now that it’s tax season, and their favorite criminal tool is your personal information.”
Yost, and the Attorney General’s Office as a whole, are encouraging Ohioans to follow these tips when filing their taxes:
- File as quickly as possible. Tax identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information to file a fraudulent return. The earlier you file, the less likely it becomes that someone can file using your information.
- Use a reputable tax preparer. Before having your tax return prepared, make sure your preparer has all the necessary credentials by visiting the IRS’ directory, here. It is also recommended that you confirm their CPA credentials (you can do that here) and that you research the business on the Attorney General’s Office website or through the Better Business Bureau. Also make sure you ask about all fees associated with their services.
- Protect your personal information. Keep sensitive information in a secure place and shred any unneeded documents that contain sensitive information, such as your social security number. For those filing online, use a secure internet connection. If you’re filing by mail, officials advise that you take your completed return directly to the post office.
- Consider the costs of any “fast” refunds. Refund anticipation loans or checks can be costly and involve substantial fees. Avoiding a refund anticipation loan may save you money without diminishing the amount of your refund. Plus, if you file electronically, you can typically have any refund directly deposited into your bank account within a few weeks.
- Use your refund wisely. As always, being a smart consumer, shopper or saver will benefit you in the long-run.
Consumers who suspects a scam or an unfair business practice is occurring should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or (800) 282-0515.