Tax scams to look out for

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Time is running out to get taxes filed - but don't let those who prey on people who wait scam you.

One of the most common scams during tax season will hurt long past April and cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to fix.

It's identity theft. 

"Almost everything you need to steal someone's identity is in their tax return," Mark Gingrich, a member at Williams-Keepers LLC said.

This close to tax deadline means someone could have already filed your taxes for you.

"Many people don't find out they've had their identity stolen until they try to claim their tax refund and it's already been claimed," he said.

All it takes for someone else to get your refund is a scammer over the phone or email phishing for information.

"We've had clients who said someone called them claiming to be Homeland Security or the IRS and request confidential information that will allow them to steal the identity," Gingrich said.

Gingrich is used to helping people file their taxes, so he's learned what it takes to stay safe.

"Whenever you put your name, social security number, or address out there, you want to make sure it's a secure interchange," he said.

He also advises using caution around free services, as they usually come with some kind of a catch.

Other scams to be on the lookout for include promises of free money from inflated tax refunds and even fraud by your preparer. 

Make sure you check with the Better Business Bureau to ensure you've hired a reliable accountant.

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