Columbus, Ohio - Ohio’s attorney general is weighing in on what people can do to protect themselves from tax refund scams.
Dave Yost says tax season provides an ideal opportunity for would-be thieves to try to separate Ohioans from their money.
"You know everybody loves a tax refund, right? You wait for it and you look for it but, unfortunately, the thieves are out there. They’re looking forward to tax returns, too: your tax returns," he says.
Yost says his office received more than 130 reports of tax-related scams just in the month of January. He says the best thing people can do to protect themselves is to file their taxes as soon as possible.
"The first thing you ought to do is just get it done early. Once it gets in, that reduces the time frame that anybody can try to steal your information and get in front of you and fake your tax return," he says.
Yost says also urges people to protect their personal information by making sure they’re filing electronically through a reputable website and with a secure internet connection.
“It will have a little padlock over on the side showing next to the ‘http://www’ that we never look at. If it’s a secure site there will be a little picture of a padlock, and icon of a padlock, and you want to look for that," he explains.
Yost says people should never, under any circumstances, share their information over the phone.
"The IRS is never going to contact you for your social security number over the phone or other personal information. They just don't do that. If somebody calls you, hang up. Don’t talk to them," he cautions.
Yost says those opting to file paper returns should be sure to place them into a secured USPS drop-off box to avoid having them into the wrong hands.
"If you’re gonna mail it, take it down to one of those big, blue, steel United States Post Offices boxes and drop it in the slot so you can be sure it’s not going to be picked up casually by somebody just driving by your house," he says.
People can report suspected scams by visiting OhioProtects.org or by calling the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515.
STACEY CARMANY, TUSCO TV