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Four Ways to Guard Against Tax Scams

BBB logoSedona AZ (March 9, 2015) – Whether consumers have filed their taxes or are in the process of doing so, now is the time to protect against potential tax scams. Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises consumers to beware of electronic communications about taxes or refunds that appear to come from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Identity thieves will impersonate the IRS to ‘phish’ for personal and private information. The emails may state there is a problem with a refund or return, and that confirmation of personal or financial information is required to resolve the issue. Unfortunately, once consumers click on a link – leading to a fake website – and verify their personal information, they are at risk.

IRS logoBBB offers the following tips on how consumers can prevent falling for a tax scam and becoming a victim of identity theft:

  1. Be wary of emails, phone calls or text messages that claim to be from the IRS. If the IRS needs to contact you, they will generally do so through mail. Consumers who receive an unsolicited email that appears to be from the IRS or an organization with a similar name, such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), should report it immediately to phishing@irs.gov. You can also visit the IRS website for the top tax scams for 2015.
  1. Contact the IRS directly to verify additional correspondence by locating the nearest local office at irs.gov. There are eight IRS offices throughout Arizona.
  1. Do not provide any personal information, click on links or open any attachments if it appears to be a phishing email from the IRS.
  1. Start with trust by selecting a trustworthy tax preparer at SearchBBB.org. Ensure the person helping you file your taxes has a Tax Preparer Identification Number (TPIN). Selecting a reputable tax preparer will help protect your personal information.

Find trusted tax tips and more on BBB’s Tax Resource page at bbb.org/phoenix/tax-tips/. For more information, or to schedule an interview with a BBB spokesperson, contact Tracie Schimikowsky at 928-772-3410.

BBB is an unbiased organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. In 2014, people turned to BBB more than 165 million times for BBB Business Reviews® on more than 4.7 million businesses and 11,000 charities, all available free at bbb.org.  Incorporated locally in 1938, BBB Serving Central, Northern and Western Arizona is supported by over 11,400 BBB Accredited Businesses. Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB provides objective advice, free business reviews and charity reports, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust.

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  1. From: Anthony Palermo [mailto:Anthony.Palermo@yavapai.us]
    Sent: Friday, March 20, 2015 8:44 AM
    Subject: FYI: How we rank in schemes and frauds


    From: ABC 15 (Phoenix)

    “PHOENIX – A new report from the federal government puts Arizona near the top of a rather undistinguished list, states with the highest rates of fraud and identity theft.

    Both fraud and identity theft are growing at an alarming rate across the United States.

    According to the latest rankings from the Federal Trade Commission, Arizona is now ranked 9th overall when it comes to identity theft. We’re 16th when it comes to fraud schemes.

    But when it comes to city rankings across the U.S., the Sierra Vista-Douglas area in southeast Arizona is number one for fraud, making it tops in the country per capita.

    Prescott comes in 10th and the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale area ranks 25th.

    So, the ABC15 Investigators did a breakout of the types of fraud happening in Arizona.

    They found imposter scams are the most prevalent, followed by bogus debt collection and phony bank and lender schemes. Telephone and auto-related fraud round out the top 5 on the list.

    When it comes to identity theft, stolen information lifted from government documents and benefits rank first and second on the list, followed by stolen credit card information. Phone and utility schemes come in fourth, while bogus banking scams come in fifth.

    Florida tops the national list for both identity thefts and fraud schemes. South Dakota and North Dakota saw the fewest complaints in both categories.”

    Anthony J. “Tony” Palermo
    Community Relations Specialist
    Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office
    255 E. Gurley Street
    Prescott, AZ 86301

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