With a few days left to file taxes, experts are urging Mississippians to protect themselves from tax preparer fraud. MPB's Alexis Ware reports.
One tax preparer in Gulfport is facing jail time and fines after stealing her clients' tax refund and using the money to gamble at casinos.
John O'hara works with the Better Business Bureau of Mississippi. He says people should be concerned if a preparer requests to receive the refund check first.
"Someone who tells you to have the check sent to them and then they'll pay you that's a red flag. You want your refund going directly to you."
O'Hara says other red flags are tax prepares who offer a larger than normal refund or charge an excessive amount. He says one issue that's prevalent is people filing returns without permission; tax prepares may do this if they previously had access to your personal information.
"We have had some people this year that may have done taxes with people in the past and someone's already filed the return. Well if you didn't hire them this year to do your return if you didn't go in there and sign the letter that says you're my tax preparer they can report them to the IRS or you can report them to the attorney general's office here in the state of Mississippi."
IRS Spokesman Mark Green says tax payers are responsible for their own information submitted even if they used a preparer.
"Make sure that you go over each line item on that tax return if you choose a preparer to make sure the information on there is what you agree to because you the tax payer are held accountable for whatever goes on that tax return."
Green says choose preparers who are available to contact throughout the year.