Beware of Tax Scams and Unethical Preparers

January 27, 2014

DENVER – As soon as W-2s arrive, tax time gets underway and for many, that can mean phishing attempts, identity theft or dealing with an unreliable tax preparer. The Better Business Bureau is warning taxpayers to stay on guard against scams, protect their personal information and hiring only reputable tax preparers.

“At tax time, you’re dealing with important and sensitive information, so we always encourage you to trust who you hire, and don’t fall for phishing attempts,” said Su Hawk, president and CEO for the BBB of Denver/Boulder.

Some tax preparation companies are open for only a few months every year, and it can be hard to contact the preparer if there are problems with your return. Each year, consumers file complaints with the BBB about delays in getting refunds. The BBB encourages taxpayers to check BBB Business Reviews and hire BBB Accredited tax preparers by browsing its online directory at

Fraudulent phishing emails that appear to be from the Internal Revenue Service continue to target taxpayers during this busy season. These emails usually indicate some action is needed regarding the recipient’s refund. Links in the emails usually go to a scammer’s website, which asks victims to enter Social Security numbers, bank account or credit card information. The site may automatically install viruses or other malicious software on victims’ computers.

Additionally, tax identity theft has also become a growing problem in recent years. According to the IRS, nearly 1,500 tax identity-theft related criminal investigations were launched in 2013—an increase of 66 percent from 2012. To protect consumers, the IRS, FTC and BBB have expanded efforts to educate taxpayers and help victims.

Avoid becoming a victim of tax identity theft:

  • Don’t wait. File tax returns early.

·        Protect your information. Don’t leave W-2s in unsecure locations like offices or cars. Shred copies of leftover tax information, drafts, or calculation sheets that are no longer needed. Never disclose Social Security numbers—SSNs—or other sensitive personal information over the phone to unsolicited callers.

  • Take security measures. Use secure Internet connections when filing electronically, or mail tax returns directly from the post office.
  • Do your homework. Check BBB Business Reviews and hire BBB Accredited tax preparers by browsing the BBB online directory at

If personal information is compromised, take immediate proactive steps to recover:

  • Contact the IRS ID Theft Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490.
  • Place freezes on credit reports; continue to monitor credit by obtaining free reports from each of the three credit bureaus at

Remember, the IRS will never initiate contact by email, text or social media.

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About the BBB

The BBB is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. The BBB provides objective advice, BBB Business Reviews, BBB Charity Reports and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, your BBB also offers dispute resolution services for consumers and businesses. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, there are 113 local, independent BBBs across the U. S. and Canada. Please visit for more information