Local tax professional discusses popular scams

FORT WANE, Ind. (WANE)- This time of year, many people are looking forward to getting some extra cash back in the form of a tax refund. But Beware: there are people out there trying to get their hands on your money, too.

Although the IRS does its best to regulate tax scams, there are simply too many of them out there.

Tricia Vardaman, a local tax professional, talked with NewsChannel 15 about scams to look out for.

According to Vardaman probably the most common one: telephone scammers posing as IRS agents. With tax filing season under way, there has been a surge of these calls in recent weeks.

The caller is typically aggressive and demands that the victim pay a bogus tax bill. It can sound like a legitimate call because the person may use the victim’s name or have personal information.

“I’ve gotten it myself,” said Vardaman “They are very aggressive. They tell you they’re going to seize all your assets, freeze your bank account. They told me they were going to take my son’s college account.”

Vardaman said the best thing to do is just hang up.

“If they’re telling you that you owe debt call the IRS yourself,” she said. “It’s a lengthy phone call but it’s worth it in the long run. They are never going to call you unsolicited. All of the contact is going to come in the form of a letter.”

Another scam to watch out for is pop-up tax shops. A once vacant store front becomes the home of a fly-by-night tax company.

Typically, they are only open during tax season, and try to attract customers by offering tax help for a low price.

Vardaman said in the long-run, dealing with them could cost you.

“I would be weary of anyone who offers to do it for very cheap. Generally those are people who haven’t put in the time or education into it that is required,” she said.

Others overcharge customers and some even encourage customers to commit tax fraud by asking them to come up with child dependents or falsifying income.

The best way to avoid falling victim to these scams is to research.

“You can go onto the IRS website and search your preparer’s name and it will tell you if they are registered with them.” she said. “You have to have a certain number of education credits to be on the website. So that right there is a big indication if you’re going to the right location.”

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