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Urges Californians to report suspected tax scams to oag.ca.gov/report
OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today issued a consumer alert with tips on filing and preparing taxes safely and preventing tax-related identity theft. As Tax Day approaches, many Californians may seek out assistance with filing their state and federal tax returns. To avoid falling victim to a tax-related scam, Attorney General Bonta advises Californians to file early, beware of common scams, and take actions to protect their identity.
“As working families face an increased cost of living, many are anxiously waiting for their tax refund to put some money back in their pockets,” said Attorney General Bonta. “With Tax Day just around the corner, we want to make sure that these hardworking Californians don’t fall victim to tax-related fraud or scams. I encourage Californians to review our website for tools, tips, and resources to make filing taxes easier and safer at oag.ca.gov/consumers. And if you believe you are the victim of a tax-related scam, report it at oag.ca.gov/report.”
Beware of Tax-Related Identity Scams:
Tax-related scams are common around tax season. As Tax Day approaches, be wary of scammers claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB). Scammers will often use harassment and high-pressure tactics, threatening consumers with arrest, deportation, or the loss of a driver's license if they do not receive payment, often by money wire or prepaid debit cards. Some scammers may even know information such as your Social Security number or fake the caller ID to make it appear as though the call is coming from the IRS, FTB, police, or the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Scammers may send out phishing emails that look like they are from the IRS and FTB to trick you into believing you owe money or are due for a refund. These emails often include links to official-looking websites and ask for your money or personal information so that they can steal your identity.
Identity thieves use stolen personal information to file false tax returns under someone else’s name to steal tax return refunds. Scammers usually file early in the tax season and consumers may not learn that about the theft until they try to file their taxes.
How to Protect Yourself from Tax Scams:
Tax Preparation Resources:
You may qualify for free help! Many consumers turn to third-party tax preparation services for help filing their tax returns. Attorney General Bonta encourages consumers to find out if they qualify for free tax help.
Need more time to prepare? You can also use IRS Free File to electronically request an automatic tax-filing extension, regardless of your income. You will then have until October 15 to file a return. More information on how to request an extension can be found on the IRS website.
Find a reputable tax preparer. Make sure your tax preparer is reputable and qualified to provide tax services. In California, only an attorney, certified public accountant (CPA), IRS-enrolled agent, or registered-tax preparer can prepare tax returns for a fee. To confirm whether a tax preparer is registered with the IRS, check here.
If you believe you have been the victim of a tax-related scam or other misconduct, you can file a complaint with our office at oag.ca.gov/report or with the IRS.
To learn about how to protect yourself and your loved ones against fraud, visit our website at oag.ca.gov/consumers.