SC Consumer Affairs: Tips on keeping scammers away during Tax time

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — Tax season is upon us and SC Department of Consumer Affairs officials say scammers can also taking advantage of this time of year.

“The most common way is somebody going to file their taxes and they find out their taxes have already been filed for them,” said Bailey Parker, South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs communications director.

In 2021, tax fraud was the number one way that South Carolina residents had their identity stolen according to the Department of Consumer Safety. There are ways you can prevent this from happening.

“The earlier you file, the better it is to fight against tax fraud. Some fraudsters will try to steal your tax information and use your personal information to file under your name. They may try to get your refund before you even file,” said Bonnie Swingle, South Carolina Department of Revenue media manager.

Many ways this happens is when people give out information that fraudsters need, such as their social security or date of birth.

“They get a phone call from the IRS. It’s not actually the IRS and they give over their information,” Parker said.

You should beware of these scam calls as well as scam emails from so-called tax payer advocate service. The IRS has a way of protecting tax payers as well.

“Now what the IRS is doing for a lot of tax payers, is issuing out IRS pins. You get a six-digit pin that is unique to that taxpayer,” said Brittany Carolina, owner of B Lane Tax Services.

You can file your taxes yourself online, but are advised to use a secure internet connection and antivirus software. You can also go to a trusted, licensed tax preparer.

“I know what I’m doing and I’m going to get you the maximum legally,” Carolina said.

It can make the process easier and cut down on potential errors and delays in getting your tax return.

“If you want to make sure you understand the tax brackets, credits and deductions, I would suggest sitting down with a tax preparer,” Carolina said. “There’s a lot of new update and laws that people who file themselves don’t understand.”

Either way, you should file your taxes as soon as you get your W-2.

“If you don’t get a W-2 soon, you might want to contact your employer to get a copy of that,” Swingle said.

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