State officials are urging residents to watch out for scams, “unscrupulous papers” and attempts at identity theft when filing their tax returns.
"Don't ever let a scammer cheat you out of your tax refund,” Attorney General William Tong said in a joint statement Wednesday with state Department of Revenue Services Commissioner Scott Jackson and Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle Seagull.
The three officials said that advances in technology have made it easier for fraudsters to trick taxpayers, stealing their information or their refunds. Income taxes are due April 15.
A new state law requires most paid tax preparers to obtain a permit from the Department of Revenue Services when they process more than 10 state or federal returns.
To date, more than 1,650 tax preparers have registered with DRS.
“If you need support completing your tax return, always ensure that you’re working with someone you can trust who has the credentials they say they have,” Seagull said.
Other tips include:
■Don’t give personal information to someone you don’t trust or someone pressuring you.
■Close any email without clicking links if it claims you owe money or offers tax services.
■Ignore calls, texts or emails from anyone claiming you owe money. If you believe you might actually owe money to the DRS or IRS, find contact information independently and don’t rely on information provided in messages.
The IRS issued similar advice when unveiling its “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams earlier this month.
“Taxpayers should be on constant guard for these phishing schemes, which can be tricky and cleverly disguised to look like it’s the IRS,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said on March 4.
For those who think they owe money, the IRS said it typically initiates contact through mail delivered by the U.S. Postal Service, and not by phone call or other form of contact. The agency also urges taxpayers to only make federal tax payments to “United States Treasury.”
The IRS said scammers have become more sophisticated and use emails, websites and social media accounts that appear affiliated with the agency or a legitimate tax preparation firm.
The IRS said it is also seeing more advanced techniques that are targeting businesses, including people posing as a business asking a firm to pay an invoice or an “employee” seeking to re-route a direct deposit.
Criminals might use email credentials from a successful phishing attack — which compromises an email account — to send fraudulent emails to a person’s contacts. The IRS urged the public to report possible phishing attempts or scams to firstname.lastname@example.org
Jackson, meanwhile, urged Connecticut taxpayers to file their return as quickly as possible. Scammers could use stolen personal information to file a return first and claim any refunds.
“Filing your taxes as early as possible remains one of the best preventative measures against fraud,” he said.
Taxpayers can get free preparation assistance for federal returns through the IRS’ e-filing webpage. Those making $55,000 or less, or those with limited English-speaking abilities, could also qualify for help from an IRS-certified volunteer.
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