Live 5 Investigates: Tax time scam warning

Source: SC Dept of Consumer Affairs
Source: SC Dept of Consumer Affairs
Source: SC Dept of Consumer Affairs
Source: SC Dept of Consumer Affairs

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The tax filing deadline is only three weeks away, and experts are warning about tax scams that could happen to anyone.

March had a higher number of scams than any other month last year in South Carolina, according to details from the Department of Consumer Affairs.

Victims reported losing more than $1.6 million total in 2017.

"It's really disheartening because people are so trusting and wouldn't think someone would go out of their way to be that dishonest," Bob Scutta said.

Scutta owns IKOR of Hilton Head and Savannah, which advocates for elderly and children with disabilities in our community.

Numbers show scams are happening all the time.

1,441 scams were reported to SCDCA last year.

The top category was imposter schemes, where scammers pose as an agency like the IRS to steal your money.

"It seems like the bad guys get more and more sophisticated with their scams," said Scutta. "The scammers are targeting the computer systems and the software of the tax preparers."

He said in some cases, a scammer will file a false tax return using your name and information before you do.

The money from the IRS might actually be deposited into your account. The scammer then calls and acts like there was an error and demands that you to send the money back as soon as possible in various forms.

"They might ask you to do it via gift card or wiring money, calling a collection agency, some are threatening with jail time," Scutta said. "When somebody calls you about your taxes from the IRS you should be very, very suspicious."

He says best thing you can do is leave the money alone and call the real IRS.

SCDCA says scam reporting is an important step in helping the agency empower consumers to recognize and avoid scams.

To report a scam, obtain a copy of "Ditch the Pitch: A Guide to Guarding Against Scams," or view the scam report in its entirety, call 844-835-5322 or visit www.consumer.sc.gov, then click Report a Scam.

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