Lyness, Ziemke: Be aware of tax season scams

Posted by: Abrahm Hurt  | Thursday, March 25, 2021

STATEHOUSE (March 25, 2021) — As taxpayers continue to file their 2020 tax returns, State Reps. Randy Lyness (R-West Harrison) and Cindy Ziemke (R-Batesville) are urging Hoosiers to be on the lookout for identity thieves and scammers.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, COVID-19 led to a 225% increase in the number of identity theft complaints from 2019 to 2020, raising the total to 89,390. The FTC also received more than 2.2 million reports of fraud and nearly $3.3 billion in losses in 2020.

"Hoosiers should be on the lookout for scammers who are trying to steal for their personal gain," Lyness said. "Take extra steps to protect yourself and your information, and make sure to seek out a reputable tax professional if you need assistance filing."

The Internal Revenue Service reports scammers use mail, telephone or email to deceive individuals, businesses, and payroll and tax professionals. According to the IRS, the bureau does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. The IRS is reminding the public to avoid scams including unethical ghost tax return preparers who do not sign tax returns they prepare, emails or text messages asking for personal and financial information, and imposters who call taxpayers claiming to be IRS employees using fake names and identification badge numbers. 

"Criminals use any means necessary to scam others, including impersonating someone from the IRS, Indiana Department of Revenue and even local law enforcement as they use scare tactics and threaten innocent people," Ziemke said. "Everyone needs to be aware and very cautious, especially during tax season as it presents other opportunities to steal identities and money."

To avoid falling victim to tax-related scams and identity theft, Ziemke said to follow these tips provided by the FTC:

  • Protect Social Security Numbers throughout the year. Do not give it out unless there is a good reason and you are sure of who you are giving it to;
  • File tax returns as early in the tax season as possible;
  • Use a secure internet connection if filing electronically or mail tax returns directly from the post office;
  • Research a tax preparer thoroughly before handing over personal information;
  • Check credit reports at least once a year for free at annualcreditreport.com. Make sure no one has opened a new account in your name;
  • Do not give out sensitive information over the phone. When in doubt, hang up; and
  • Never click on or forward links in unsolicited text or email messages.

Ziemke said those who believe they are a victim of a scam need to contact local law enforcement immediately. Scams should be reported to the Indiana Attorney General’s office by visiting indianaconsumer.com, and complaints should be filed with Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.

The federal and state tax filing deadline this year is May 17. To find a reputable preparer, visit IRS.gov.

-30-

State Rep. Randy Lyness (R-West Harrison) represents House District 68,
which includes all of Union County and portions of Franklin and Dearborn counties.
Click 
here to download a high-resolution photo.

State Rep. Cindy Ziemke (R-Batesville) represents House District 55, which includes 
all of Fayette County and portions of Decatur, Franklin, Ripley and Rush counties.
Click 
here to download a high-resolution photo.