Tax time scams to avoid

Taxpayers falling victim to tax time scams. / Jessica Fairley

The Internal Revenue Service is sending out a warning to people about tax time scams.

Identity theft is one of the fasting growing scams in Georgia. It can happen by mail, telephone or credit cards and no one's immune from it.

"I received a text message stating that I can get a $1,000 credit if I provided my social security number. There was an automatic red flag," said IRS Media Representative Mark Green.

Luckily Green recognized the signs, but many people have fallen victim.

"In north Georgia, unfortunately 100 people did reply to that scam and once they provided their social security number, the scam artist filed a tax return on their behalf," said Mark Green.

That's just one instance of tax fraud. In southwest Georgia, law enforcement officials say they are swamped with cases.

"In fact we had two people come in today (Tuesday) saying that their social security numbers had been stolen," Dougherty County Sheriff's Captain Craig Dodd.

Taxpayers are warned to protect themselves by avoiding anything that solicits social security numbers.

Officials also advise filers to choose a tax preparer wisely, as some have been known to sell information for a profit. A good start is asking if they have a Preparer Tax Identification Number.

"That gives the tax payer some assurance that at least the tax preparer has made the first step in registering with the Internal Revenue Service," said Mark Green.

While IRS investigators make field visits to ensure tax preparers and filers are adhering to protocol, local officials say people need to be proactive beforehand to prevent financial loss.