Tax Day is a month away — Pa. officials offer tips on how to avoid getting scammed

    Tax Day, April 15, is about a month away, and maybe you’ve already started getting the phone calls. You know the one: A pre-recorded voice, claiming to be from the government, claims that you’ll face fees, penalties, and maybe even jail if you don’t get your fiscal house in order.

    You probably know this already — it’s a scam designed to part you from your money as efficiently as possible.

    Officials from the Pennsylvania Dept. of Revenue, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants gathered at the Capitol on Monday morning to offer tips on how to identify potential scammers — and what do about it if you’ve been scammed or if you think someone is trying to scam you.

    “Last year we saw approximately 2.7 million taxpayers file their Pennsylvania tax returns in the final month before the filing deadline,” state Revenue Secretary Dan Hassell said in a statement. “This is a good time for us to remind the public that filing now through our free online system can help prevent cyber-criminals from stealing your personal information and filing a fraudulent tax return in your name.”

    Richard Furlong, a “stakeholder liaison” from the Internal Revenue Service, was also on-hand Monday to call attention to the federal agency’s “Dirty Dozen” list of scams. They include “phishing schemes, phone scams, identity theft ploys and refund fraud committed by dishonest tax preparers.”

    “Taxpayers should constantly be on guard against these scams,” Furlong said in a statement released by the Revenue Department. “We know from experience that fraudsters will pose as officials from the IRS and threaten honest taxpayers to try to get ahold of their money and sensitive data. You can never be too cautious.”

    An award-winning political journalist with more than 25 years' experience in the news business, John L. Micek is The Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. Before joining The Capital-Star, Micek spent six years as Opinion Editor at PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., where he helped shape and lead a multiple-award-winning Opinion section for one of Pennsylvania's most-visited news websites. Prior to that, he spent 13 years covering Pennsylvania government and politics for The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa. His career has also included stints covering Congress, Chicago City Hall and more municipal meetings than he could ever count, Micek contributes regular analysis and commentary to a host of broadcast outlets, including CTV-News in Canada and talkRadio in London, U.K., as well as "Face the State" on CBS-21 in Harrisburg, Pa.; "Pennsylvania Newsmakers" on WGAL-8 in Lancaster, Pa., and the Pennsylvania Cable Network. His weekly column on American politics is syndicated nationwide to more than 800 newspapers by Cagle Syndicate.

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