Tax season brings preparation scams

This tax season your Better Business Bureau is partnering with the Idaho Attorney General’s Office to warn the public about the dangers of tax identity theft. This joint warning is in cooperation with Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week, which takes place from Jan. 29 to Feb. 2. As W2s begin flooding in through the mail and tax preparer advertisements pop up online, this is a great time to remind family and friends of the best practices for keeping their identity safe from harm.

In the last two years, there have been more than 460 tax collection scams reported to BBB Scam Tracker. Some of the most common tax scams include imposter scams, tax relief scams and ID theft.

Tax identity theft occurs when someone gets access to your Social Security number and uses it to get a tax refund or job. Victims may become aware of the con when they receive a letter from the IRS stating more than one tax return was filed in their name. Another scenario is when IRS records show the person has wages from an employer they do not know.

The Idaho Attorney General’s Office urges taxpayers to be on the lookout for tax schemes and is sending out a reminder that tax thieves are becoming more sophisticated and persistent each year.

There are precautions you can take to protect your identity. First, if you are having your taxes prepared for you, be sure to use qualified preparers and make sure they include their prepared tax identification number or PTIN. You can search for trustworthy tax preparers at

Beware of preparers who guarantee high value tax returns. It’s a huge red flag if they are making promises before even starting your paperwork. And be cautious of preparers who tell you that you need to obtain other services from them in order for them to complete your taxes. Other services may be notary services, immigration services or sending registered letters. Never sign a blank return.

If you are handling your own taxes this year, you aren’t free from schemes. Online tax scams are just as prevalent. Be sure to use a secure computer when filing your taxes online. Make sure antivirus software is up-to-date and never use public WiFi to file tax returns. No matter how you file, keep a record of all your tax documents.

Consumers can report a scam to the Federal Trade Commission or the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division. Learn more about tax scams at

Emily Valla is the marketplace director for Better Business Bureau Northwest: Idaho and Western Wyoming. Contact her at 208-523-9754 or by emailing

Emily Valla is the marketplace director for Better Business Bureau Northwest: Idaho and Western Wyoming. Contact her at 208-523-9754 or byemailing

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Source: Business