Well, it’s tax season, which means scammers could be plotting ways to take advantage of a process already complicated for many.
Elizabeth Garcia with the Better Business Bureau of North Alabama says if you watch out for a few major red flags, you can make it out of this tax season safe and sound.
For starters, she says it’s best to file as early as possible. She says for whatever reason, victims have typically waited until late in the season to file their taxes, then, they get alerted refunds were sent. But they never received them – that money went to someone who filed using their information.
Garcia also encourages filing in private. It may be tempting to do it in your local coffee shop, but connecting to open, public wireless is a major risk to getting personal information stolen – and it gets more complicated if you use a tax preparer.
The first red flag with a bad tax preparer is if they charge you based on your tax refunds, as opposed to charging a flat-rate.
Garcia says that’s not all.
Find someone reliable, with a preparer tax id number, because that means they’re registered with the IRS. They also need to have legitimate contact information in case you run into any issues post-filing.
One last thing: Never sign a blank tax form. Always sign when you’re reviewing the preparer’s work, and make sure your preparer’s signature is on the forms too.