As this year's tax filing deadline approaches, experts are warning Mississippians to be on the lookout for scammers. MPB's Ezra Wall reports.
Mississippians have a few extra days this year to get their taxes done. That's because tax day - April 15th - falls on a Saturday and the following Monday is a holiday in some areas. But those extra days could also give scammers some more time to con taxpayers. John O'Hara with the Better Business Bureau says Mississippians should be especially careful choosing a tax preparer.
"After tax season we start getting phone calls where people are looking for their return, they're looking for their tax preparer," says O'Hara. "Not only did they not file your tax return, or they did and they got your return back, but they also have your financial information that you turned over."
Some criminals have stolen taxpayers' identities by filing returns on their behalf and keeping the money for themselves. Another way scammers try to take advantage of unsuspecting members of the public is by harassing them over the phone, trying to coerce them into making payments they don't owe. Clay Sanford is with the Internal Revenue Service. He says the IRS will never use strong-arm tactics or threaten someone over the telephone.
"To get a phone call out of the blue that you owe money, or that we're going to have you arrested, that's not going to happen," says Sanford. "So these are scam phone calls. They're designed by the scammers to shock you into paying something that you don't really owe."
If taxpayers feel like they're being scammed, or if they just need information about their taxes, they should contact the Internal Revenue Service at www.IRS.gov.