State's attorney reminds public about ID theft, tax refund fraud

Union County State’s Attorney Tyler R. Edmonds is alerting the public about identity theft and tax refund fraud associated with April’s tax filing deadline.  

Tax refund fraud commonly occurs when stolen identity information is used to file a tax return in the victim’s name and the thief then obtains the refund that would be due to the victim, the state’s attorney explained.  

Tax refund fraud has previously been reported in Union County. The state’s attorney’s office urges the public to protect identifying documents and information as the tax deadline approaches.  

The IRS has completed its annual “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams with a warning to taxpayers about aggressive telephone scams continuing from coast-to-coast during this filing season.  

Along with aggressive and threatening phone calls, e-mail phishing schemes are among the “Dirty Dozen” tax scams.  

Members of the public with questions, or those who want to report suspicious activity, can call the Union County state’s attorney’s office in Jonesboro at 833-7216 or the IRS toll-free at 1-800-908-4490.

The IRS list of “Dirty Dozen” tax scams include the following:

Phishing and Malware

Taxpayers should be alert for a continuing surge of fake emails, text messages, websites and social media attempts to steal personal information.  

These attacks tend to increase during tax season and remain a major vector of identity theft.

Phone Scams

Taxpayers should be alert to tax time phone scams where aggressive criminals pose as IRS agents in hopes of stealing money or personal information.  

Phone scams or “vishing” (voice phishing) continue to pose a major threat.  

The scam has cost thousands of people millions of dollars in recent years, and the IRS continues to see variations on these aggressive calling schemes.

Identity Theft

Despite a steep drop in tax-related identity theft in recent years, this scam remains a serious issue.  

Taxpayers should continue to protect their sensitive tax and financial data to help defend against identity thieves.

Preparer Fraud

With recent tax law changes, some taxpayers may choose to have a paid professional prepare their tax returns this year even if they’ve done it themselves in years past.  

The IRS reminds taxpayers to be careful when selecting a tax professional.  

Though most tax professionals provide honest, high-quality service, a minority of dishonest preparers operate each filing season perpetrating refund fraud, identity theft and other scams that hurt innocent taxpayers.

Falsified Income 

Taxpayers should avoid schemes involving falsifying income, including the creation of bogus Forms 1099.  

Con artists commonly use this trick as well as related scams designed to get taxpayers to erroneously claim tax credits to which they aren’t entitled.

Inflating Deductions 

Taxpayers should watch for areas frequently targeted by unscrupulous tax preparers that include overstating deductions such as charitable contributions, medical expenses, padding business expenses or falsely claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and other tax benefits.

Fake Charities

Taxpayers should be alert to scam groups masquerading as charitable organizations.  

Using a tax deduction as bait, these fake charities often lure victims into making ineligible donations, ultimately leaving the unsuspecting donor in the lurch.

Improper Business Tax Credits

Taxpayers should avoid improperly claiming various business tax credits, a common scam used by unscrupulous tax preparers.  

Two credits often targeted for abuse by shady tax return preparers are the Research Credit and the Fuel Tax Credit. 

Each of these credits has very specific eligibility criteria.

Additional information is also available online at https://unioncountyil.gov/sa and at https://www.irs.gov/identitytheft.  

The full list of the “Dirty Dozen” tax scams is available at https://www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/dirty-dozen.

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158
Email: news@annanews.com

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