St. Joseph County lawmakers: Be aware of tax season scams

Posted by: Allison Vanatsky  | Wednesday, March 10, 2021 2:00 pm

STATEHOUSE (March 10, 2021) – As taxpayers continue to file their 2020 tax returns, local legislators 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.

 "Scammers are out there waiting for vulnerable Hoosiers to trust them with personal information so they can take advantage of them," said State Rep. Dale DeVon (R-Granger). "Whenever you're dealing with money and especially during tax season, make sure you are working with reputable accounting professionals and stay alert for deceptive emails and text messages."

 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.

 "Knowing the signs of a scam can save you a lot of financial difficulties in the long run," said State Rep. Jake Teshka (R-South Bend). "The IRS will never contact you by text message or email, so you can know a message is automatically fake if a scammer uses either of these methods."

 To avoid falling victim to tax-related scams and identity theft, Teshka 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 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.

 State Rep. Tim Wesco (R-Osceola) 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, and complaints should be filed with Federal Trade commission at or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.

 "If you think you have been scammed, it is vital you seek assistance immediately," Wesco said. "Calling the authorities as soon as you can lessens the chance of scammers being able to steal your identity and make the situation even more difficult."

 The federal tax filing deadline this year is April 15. To find a reputable preparer, visit


State Rep. Dale DeVon (R-Granger) represents House District 5, which

includes portions of St. Joseph County.

Click here to download a high-resolution photo.

 State Rep. Jake Teshka (R-South Bend) represents House District 7, 

which includes the majority of St. Joseph County.

Click here to download a high-resolution photo.

 State Rep. Tim Wesco (R-Osceola) represents House District 21,

which includes portions of Elkhart and St. Joseph counties.

Click here to download a high-resolution photo.