Consumer Alert:
CONSUMER ALERT: Attorney General James Offers Tips to Protect Consumers from Fraud this Tax Season

NEW YORK – With this year’s tax season underway, New York Attorney General Letitia James today provided taxpayers with tips to help avoid fraudulent tax schemes. Attorney General James also urged New Yorkers to stay vigilant and report any suspected scams to steal personal and financial information to her office.

“Tax season can be a stressful time of year, and the last thing any New Yorker needs is the added concern of dealing with scammers,” said Attorney General James. “Bad actors can use a wide range of deceptive tactics, including impersonating government officials and falsely claiming to file people’s taxes, to steal money and personal information from unsuspecting New Yorkers. I encourage all those filing taxes to stay vigilant, follow the tips from my office, and contact us immediately if you believe you have been targeted or victimized by a scam.”

Common scams that New Yorkers should be on the lookout for include:

  • Fraudsters who claim you owe past tax debts and insist that you pay using a prepaid credit card or gift card. Legitimate government officials and agencies do not seek to collect debts through these means;
  • Being told that your legitimate tax refund from the IRS was a mistake and therefore you must return it. If you owe money, you will receive a legitimate notice in writing that identifies the agency and the reason you owe money, not a phone call, email, or text message;
  • Fraudsters who make false promises of free tax preparation services, only to deceive people into paying for those services;
  • Tax preparers who deceptively claim to get you your tax refund quicker and then charge you high interest rates and fees;   
  • Any unsolicited calls, text messages, or emails asking for personal information or to verify financial account information.

In her continued efforts to help New Yorkers file their tax return safely and avoid scams, Attorney General James offers the following tips:

  • Legitimate government organizations will never threaten arrest or deportation for failure to pay a debt and will never insist that consumers pay a debt only via a prepaid credit card, gift card, or wire transfer;
  • Only use established companies for tax-preparation services, and always review the entire tax return before signing it;
  • Ensure that any offers you receive on “free” tax preparation services are actually legitimate and free of charge, such as the IRS’ Free Filing program;
  • There are Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites, where consumers can get their tax returns prepared free of charge; and
  • If using a tax preparer, check the person’s qualifications and history through the Better Business Bureau. You should ensure that they sign the tax form and include their Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) upon completion. Also ensure that you are given a statement of the tax services provided and pay close attention to any extra fees or interests. For more information, please consult New York’s Consumer Bill of Rights Regarding Tax Preparers.  

Any New Yorker who suspects that they are a victim of a scam are encouraged to report it to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) by submitting a complaint online or calling 800-771-7755. Tax scams should also be reported to the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.

Today’s action is the latest in Attorney General James’ efforts to protect consumers from fraudulent tax schemes and practices. In May 2022, Attorney General James secured $141 million for millions of Americans who were deceived by TurboTax into paying for tax services that should have been free. Earlier last year in March 2022, Attorney General James issued a notice to ensure New York cryptocurrency investors were informed about their tax obligations. In March 2021, Attorney General James shut down a deceptive telefunding charity and ensured that future efforts to raise money would clearly inform New Yorkers that such donations are not tax deductible.