Pay taxes to IRS, not scammers
It’s tax time, and the West Virginia Attorney General’s office warns consumers to beware of tax scams or tactics that could jeopardize personal information as you work to meet the Tuesday filing deadline.
Consumers who are in a rush may inadvertently let information slip through the cracks and into the hands of those with ill intent.
“No matter the rush it is very important for consumers to always handle personal information wisely and responsibly,” Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said. “Scammers are well aware of the vast amount of information shared at tax time and will jump at any opportunity to use it to their advantage.”
Those filing returns should watch for phony or dishonest tax preparers who would jeopardize their personal information. Ask for the Preparer Tax Identification Number and check the U.S. Internal Revenue Service list found at irs.treasury.gov/rpo/rpo.jsf.
Taxpayers also should be on guard for IRS scam calls. It usually starts with a phone call indicating the U.S. Internal Revenue Service will arrest the consumer if he or she refuses to follow instructions.
Targeted consumers are typically told they owe immediate payment and threats of imminent arrest often follow when the consumer refuses to cooperate or questions the caller’s legitimacy.
IRS impostors will use common names and claim to know the last four digits of a Social Security number.
Before filing, double check your information and shred any discarded documents that contain personal information. Filing electronically usually is more time efficient, safer and ensures a faster tax refund.
Those who believe they may be the victim of tax-related identity theft should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Office at 1-800-368-8808 or visit the office online at www.wvago.gov.
Don’t pay scammers for prayers
The West Virginia Attorney General’s office is on a consumer warning binge, but that’s a good thing. Besides tax scammers, AG Patrick Morrisey this week also warned state residents of a “pay-for-prayer” scam targeting West Virginia consumers.
Those choosing to perpetrate such a scam have been known to utilize robocalls, websites and unsolicited email to exploit the consumer’s desire for prayer. The scheme typically involves a donation in exchange for prayer.
The AG’s Consumer Protection Division recently learned of consumers receiving calls from the “St. Mary’s Prayer Center Ministry,” an entity having no connection to St. Mary’s Medical Center in Huntington.
Anyone receiving such a call should simply hang up. Choosing to select one of the prompts can subject the consumer to receiving additional calls.
nDo not answer an unrecognized number. Spoofing technology allows scam artists to misrepresent their true location by calling from what appears to be a local number.
nNever give away financial or personal information without verifying the recipient.
nVerify the legitimacy of a charity or organization by reviewing the Secretary of State’s website to see if it is registered to solicit donations in West Virginia. Other research can be found on websites such as charitynavigator.org or guidestar.org.
nDouble check with the legitimate agency to verify its existence and that it is asking for information.
Consumers with questions can contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office at the phone number and website listed above.
The 3rd annual West Virginia Solar Congress is in three weeks. Anyone interesting in using solar power to fuel their home or business should come to Wheeling on Saturday, May 5 for a day of learning and solar celebration.
The West Virginia Solar Congress is a free annual public conference that brings together solar supporters to learn about the current status of solar and discuss its future in the Mountain State. The event will include breakout sessions on solar technology, battery storage, electric vehicles, successful volunteer strategies, policy and advocacy issues, and more.
The event will be at West Virginia Northern Community College in Wheeling from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Learn more at www.solarunitedneighbors.org.