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Authorities warn: Beware of tax season scams

Tax season is in full bloom, making the thought of free money quite appealing and putting taxpayers on edge about shelling out additional money to the Internal Revenue Service or state.

It is also the season for tax-specific scams, including e-mail and phone scams.

While scams occur year-round, tax-specialized frauds are appearing in Pagosa Springs.

Det. Scott Maxwell of the Pagosa Springs Police Department said the department has received reports of an e-mail scam alleging overpayment of tax refunds.

After telling taxpayers they owe money, the e-mail includes an account number or e-transfer number to submit the supposedly required payment, Maxwell explained.

Maxwell said such scams have originated from Pennsylvania, Utah and California and warns that the e-mails are not legitimate, adding that the IRS will never contact you by e-mail on such matters.

Det. Rich Valdez with the Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office said he has not seen reports of such scams this year, but heard of similar scams in past years in which taxpayers supposedly owed the IRS additional money for various reasons.

Mike Saccone, communications director with the attorney general’s office, said if someone is asking for your social security number or other personal information via e-mail or telephone, or if a scenario seems fishy, do not give out any personal information.

Taxpayers can also check with the IRS or Colorado Department of Revenue to see if a form or entreaty received is legitimate, Saccone said.

Further, Saccone offered the advice to never give out personal information in a phone call you don’t initiate yourself.

Valdez said www.lookstoogoodtobetrue.com, a website maintained by a joint federal law enforcement and industry task force, offers additional information on fraud including the various scams, tips and victim stories.

The Colorado Department of Revenue and IRS abide by a similar adage — “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”

Complaints concerning e-mail, phone and mail scams can be filed with local law enforcement, at www.coloradoattorneygeneral.gov/complaint or with other state and federal agencies.

randi@pagosasun.com

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