The Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Chicago and Northern Illinois is reminding businesses and consumers to file smart in an effort to keep their tax information secure and avoid tax-related scams. 

As if paying all your taxes doesn't make you feel violated enough, going with a scam artist instead of a reputable tax preparation service can really up that feeling of violation.

In 2018, BBB Scam Tracker received 3,400 tax-related scam reports with the median loss reported of $950. Consumers reported the number one means of contact for these scams was via phone. Also in 2018, BBB processed approximately 2,100 complaints against tax return preparation services and related businesses.

Scammers often rely on contacting unsuspecting victims with urgent and somethings threatening calls to immediately pay a balance or give their vital information. Well publicized changes in tax returns this year and government shutdown questions, will provide new material for imposters to try to trick consumers.

Executive Director of the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau, Dennis Horton:

It’s never been a more crucial time to protect your identity and personal information and nothing puts you in a more vulnerable position than filing your taxes. BBB urges businesses and consumers to think twice and do your homework before providing all of your personal information to anyone offering to assist in filing your taxes.

According to the BBB, here are some ways consumers and business owners can combat tax fraud:

  • Only deal with trustworthy tax preparation services. Check BBB.org for the latest Business Profile before you engage a company for the first time.
  • Protect personally identifiable information (PII) such as birth date, Social Security numbers, bank accounts, etc.
  • Check out websites carefully and make sure you are accessing the real IRS website (irs.gov) when filing your taxes electronically or inquiring for additional information.
  • If you get tax information delivered electronically from your employer or other entity, treat that information carefully. Download it onto a password-protected computer. Understand how tax scams work and be on guard for “red flags” such as calls before you’ve received any kind of letter from the Internal Revenue Service, Canadian Revenue Agency, or other tax authority, demands for immediate payment, threats or intimidation, or payment requests via wire transfer, prepaid debit card, or gift card.