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Consumer Protection Division warns of tax and COVID relief scams

Published: Mar. 16, 2021 at 3:43 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Tax season amidst the pandemic has opened the door for scammers. With stimulus checks on the way, and people turning to online platforms such as TurboTax, experts say you need to be on your guard when you file.

According to cybersecurity company McAfee, 63% of Americans are filing their taxes online this year. Twelve percent of them are doing it for the first time.

“Any time tax season arrives in North Dakota, it presents opportunity for con artists and I think what you see is again an uptick in phishing scams,” said Consumer Protection Division Director Parrell Grossman.

Phishing scams are fraudulent emails - in this case, impersonating officials or government entities, such as the IRS. But, scams can also be hidden in text messages, phone calls or letters attempting to obtain sensitive information, like usernames, passwords, credit card details or photos of drivers licenses.

Stimulus checks are posing another opportunity for scammers to take advantage of the unsuspecting.

“With so many folks getting them and maybe desperately awaiting these, they’re maybe not paying as close attention as they can and should be. But, the con artists are paying attention,” Grossman said.

Grossman says the best defense against scams is being aware of them.

Grossman says it’s the IRS will never call you and it does not send out emails. He says if you believe you’ve been contacted by a scammer, call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-472-2600.

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