TOPEKA (KSNT) — Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has issued a warning to Kansas residents to beware of scams this tax season.
According to Schmidt, the Consumer Protection Division has seen an increase in calls and emails from Kansans who are targeted by scammers offering to help them with their tax returns. Scam artists often promise to expedite reimbursement for a taxpayer owed by the Internal Revenue Service or the state government.
Schmidt also warned Kansans about the prevalence of identity theft. These thieves use the information they obtain to file a tax return and claim a fraudulent refund. Most people may not even be aware of the theft until they receive a message from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) indicating that more than one return has been filed in their name or that there is had an anomaly in their repository. At this point, the tax refund is already in the possession of the scammer.
Another scam that the Attorney General’s office has warned about is when someone pretends to be the IRS. The scammer will claim that the victim owes taxes and demand that the citizen pay immediately over the phone, often with a gift card or prepaid debit card. The scammer may even threaten to arrest the victim. The real taxman will never threaten to arrest individuals over the phone, according to Schmidt. His solution to this scam is simple: just hang up.
A scheme that resembles the IRS impostor involves a scammer obtaining a taxpayer’s personal data, including their Social Security number or individual tax identification number and bank account information. The scammer files a false tax return and has the refund deposited into the taxpayer’s checking or savings account. Once the direct deposit enters the bank account, the fraudster calls the victim posing as an IRS employee. The victim is informed that there has been a mistake and that the IRS needs the money immediately or penalties and interest will result. The victim is asked to buy specific gift cards for the refund amount.
Schmidt goes on to say that taxpayers should carefully consider whether to take a prepayment check or prepay a loan prepayment. None of these means that the IRS will issue a tax refund faster. Refund anticipation checks often involve paying a fee for late payment of tax preparation fees. A prepayment loan can mean money now, but often fees and interest will be taken from the tax refund. As with all financial products or services, consider all fees, charges, and delays to help you make the financial decision that’s best for you.
Neither the Kansas Department of Revenue nor the IRS will require people to use a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer, according to Schmidt. The IRS will not ask for debit or credit card numbers over the phone. Those who owe federal taxes should make payments to the US Treasury or consult the IRS online for options here. Credit card payments can only be made for Kansans if the consumer initiates the call or transaction.
If you believe you have been the victim of tax identity theft, click here. You can also call the AG’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-432-2310 or reach them on their website.