WEST VIRGINIA (WOAY) – While tax season is always a rewarding time for many, preparing for it can come with risks of its own.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey reminds consumers to protect their information when filing federal and state income taxes.
The rise in virtual tax preparation services due to COVID-19 has only increased the risk of scams. Money Matters Accounting Services Office Manager Kim Gill follows up on the risks with a helpful tip people should look out for.
“When you type the address into your web browser of the website you’re going to, always look for the secure padlock, if it shows unlocked do not enter your information because it is not secure,” Gill says.
“Here at Money Matters, we use a secure portal where you can upload everything and know that everything is going to be safe. Also, never email your information unless it’s encrypted.”
The information tax preparers often ask for people to provide include Social Security numbers, finances, birth dates, addresses, among other sensitive items scam artists could potentially steal.
Whether filing online or in-person, always make sure it’s from a legitimate tax preparer. Gill lays out some red flags to be aware of when choosing a service.
“You should always make sure they have a PTIN (Preparer Tax Identification Number) and sign the tax return,” says Gill. “That’s a major red flag if they don’t put their information on there. You should also make sure that you can reach out to them, you should be able to contact your tax preparer. If you can’t reach out to them either by phone or by a location, major red flag.”
To better avoid running into a scam during tax time, Morrisey further reminds consumers to file their returns before the April 18 deadline. He also says people should use a secure internet connection when filing.