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January 26, 2017
For More Information, contact:
Luther Strange
Mike Lewis (334) 353-2199
Alabama Attorney General
Joy Patterson (334) 242-7491
Page 1 of 2

(MONTGOMERY) – With the onset of the tax season, Attorney General
Luther Strange warns Alabamians to be vigilant against income tax fraud and he
offers tips to keep from falling prey to certain tax preparers with potentially
deceptive offers.
“Between late January and early April, when almost all American households
have to file an annual tax return, can be open season for unscrupulous tax preparers
whose objective is to harm consumers’ bottom line, and identity thieves attempting
to steal tax refunds,” said Attorney General Luther Strange.
“Most tax preparers provide honest and reliable services, but unfortunately
we have to be on guard for those who do not. Advertisements about tax preparation
and filing abound during this time, and some of the ads seen on television, heard on
the radio, or read online can be tempting. Some tax preparation companies claim to
be able to get your tax refund money the next day or even before you file. These
offers, however, can be deceptively expensive. Another serious problem is identity
theft, with criminals just waiting to steal your personal information and file phony
tax returns in an effort to claim the refund due to you.”
Attorney General Strange offers the following tips for consumers to avoid
becoming victims of tax schemes:

  • Do it yourself: You can file your own tax return electronically or on paper.
    Filing online is free with the IRS.
  • You may qualify for free preparation: Lower-income consumers can use free
    tax preparation software found at www.irs.gov through Free File. If your
    income is $54,000 or less, you can get free tax preparation assistance at a
    Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) location near you.
    501 Washington Avenue * Montgomery, AL 36104 * (334) 242-7300
    www.ago.state.al.us Page 2 of 2
  • Safeguard your refund:
    o pay your tax preparer before filing – many preparers charge higher fees
    when deducting the cost of preparation from your refund. Avoid paying
    extra for this supposed convenience.
    o Avoid refund advances – no one can guarantee to obtain your refund from
    the IRS faster than you can. Tax refund advances are actually loans from
    your preparer, and like almost any loan, will cost you additional fees to
    o Consider direct deposit – if you file electronically and choose to have your
    refund directly deposited into your bank account, the IRS does not charge
    additional fees and is often able to provide your refund sooner.
  • Responding to tax-related identity theft. A surprising letter or notice from the
    IRS, or the rejection of your return filing, could be an indication that your
    Social Security number was used to file a fraudulent tax return. If you think
    this may be the case:
    o Contact the IRS immediately
    o Place a fraud alert on your credit reports with: TransUnion, Experian, and
    o Create an identity theft report at www.identitytheft.gov
    o File a police report

To report suspected consumer fraud or abuse, Alabamians may call the
Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-392-5658. You can also
visit the Attorney General’s website at www.ago.alabama.gov and click on
“Consumer Protection.” To file an online complaint, use the link: