by Attorney General Patrick Morrisey
CHARLESTON — Attorney General Patrick Morrisey today warned consumers to be cautious if they are filing their taxes at the last minute or awaiting a tax refund.

“The April 15 tax day deadline is quickly approaching, and scammers may be looking to take advantage of those who have still not yet filed. Consumers who have received or expect to receive a tax refund also must stay alert to protect themselves from identity theft,” said Attorney General Morrisey. “Scammers have been known to file fraudulent refund claims using another person’s identity, which ends up victimizing innocent citizens.”

According to the Internal Revenue Service, stopping identity theft related to refund fraud is one of its top priorities. The agency said it will send notices to consumers or their tax preparers if the IRS believes the consumers’ identities have been compromised. Red flags include: “If you receive a letter from the IRS alerting you to one of these red flags, it is critical for consumers to respond immediately,” Morrisey said. “But also be cautious, the IRS will never call you out of the blue and demand that you make an immediate payment with a pre-paid debit card or money order for taxes you supposedly own. That is a scam going around the nation right now.”

Morrisey offered the following tips to consumers to help them avoid becoming a victim of identity theft: “Consumers should always remember to never give personal information over the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless they initiated the contact,” Morrisey said. “And always validate that you are sure you know who you are talking and dealing with.”
If you believe you have been a victim of identity theft, call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 800-368-8808 and/or the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490 to ensure you are not a part of a tax-related scam.

Additionally, victims of identity theft should: “Our office encourages consumers to follow some of these tips and educate themselves on how to protect their information so they can enjoy a less stressful tax season,” Morrisey said.
If you have any questions or feel as if you may be a victim of a tax scam, please call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 800-368-8808.