WHAT ARE THE SIGNS THAT THIS IS A SCAM?
You are approached by an individual or company who offers to prepare your taxes, and help you get a larger tax refund than other preparers. The preparer may even base his/her fee on a percentage of your refund.
The preparer may approach you at your church or in your neighborhood or housing complex.
He/she may also contact you via email or through a flier or advertisement.
HOW CAN CONSUMERS PROTECT THEMSELVES?
Only use a reputable tax professional that signs your tax return and provides you a copy.
Avoid preparers who make claims that they can get larger refunds than other preparers, or who base their fee on a percentage of your refund.
Consider whether the individual or firm will be around to answer questions about the preparation of the tax return months, or even years, after the return has been filed.
Check the preparer's credentials. Only attorneys, certified public accountants (CPAs) and enrolled agents can represent taxpayers before the IRS in all matters including audits, collections and appeals.
Find out if the preparer is affiliated with a professional organization that provides its members with continuing educational resources and holds them to a code of ethics.
Ask friends and family whether they know anyone who has used the tax preparer before, and whether they were satisfied with the service they received.
Remember: The taxpayer is ultimately responsible for the accuracy of all information on the return, even if someone else prepares it. Individuals with fraudulent tax returns can face significant prison time as well as payment of back taxes with interests and penalties. Choose a preparer that you can trust!
HOW TO REPORT IF YOU’VE BEEN A VICTIM
Local Police Department: If you think you've lost money or your identity to a funeral arrangement scam, immediately contact your local police department to file a report.
Cincinnati office of the IRS Criminal Investigation Unit: Contact Special Agent Doug Ryan at (513) 263-3333.