Ohio attorney general warns of phone tax scam

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Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine warns that Ohioans are being targeted by tax scams, even though tax season has ended.

Since April 15 (the 2014 tax-filing deadline), the Ohio Attorney General's Office has received more than 50 reports of tax-related scams from consumers across the state. Most do not report losing money, but a few have reported losing $700 to $28,000 to the ploy.

"Con artists pretend to be the IRS and tell consumers there is a problem with their taxes. They make threats and demand immediate payment. A legitimate government agency will not do this," DeWine said.

In a typical variation of the scam, a con artist calls a consumer claiming to represent the IRS. The caller says the consumer owes money for back taxes or is under investigation for tax fraud. Then the caller asks the consumer to send money using a prepaid card. Once the money is sent, it is nearly impossible to recover.

The phone number that appears on the consumer's caller ID may have a 202 (Washington DC) area code, but the number likely is "spoofed," and the caller likely is outside the country.

To guard against the scams, DeWine says be wary of callers who say:

• You owe back taxes.

• You're being investigated for tax fraud.

• The government is going to seize your money or property.

• You will be arrested if you don't pay.

• You must provide information about your tax return.

To report a potential scam or unfair business practice, contact the Ohio Attorney General's Office at 800-282-0515 or www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov.

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