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600 E. Boulevard Ave.
  Bismarck, ND 58505-0599
  701.328.7088 phone
  701.328.3700 fax
  877.328.7088 toll-free
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Beth Boustead, Public Information Specialist, 701.328.3039
Thursday, February 26, 2009

Fong Warns Taxpayers To Be Wary of Tax Scams

BISMARCK, N.D. – As the April 15 tax deadline approaches, Tax Commissioner Cory Fong urges taxpayers to be wary of tax scams and identity theft coming through email, telephone and internet web sites.

“This is a time of year when taxpayers are targeted by scam artists and identity thieves,” said Fong. “This year the stimulus payment and the financial concerns people have in general pose additional openings for scams. We are alerting taxpayers to be on their toes to avoid falling prey to some scam or identity theft.”

Tax time is the time of year that the Tax Department typically hears of increased activity by scammers and identity thieves claiming to be from the IRS. The most common type of scam is in the form of a "phishing" e-mail that arrives.

The bogus email tries to scare taxpayers into thinking there is an error with their income tax return, or that they are being audited, or that they are eligible for some type of special government benefit. The email urges users to click on a link that takes them to a phony web site. The web site then prompts visitors to enter their personal and financial data, information that is then sent off to identity thieves.”

“It is important for people to be on their toes and to know that the IRS, like the State Tax Department, is not going to call or email taxpayers asking for personal information,” said Fong. “So, if you have any doubts at all about the call or the email, don’t give out your personal information.”

Fong also warned taxpayers about refund anticipation loans. A refund anticipation loan is a high interest rate short-term loan offered by some tax preparers or tax firms. The amount of the loan is based on a taxpayer's anticipated refund. The loans are promoted as a way for taxpayers to receive quick access to funds rather than waiting for their tax refund.

Fong suggested e-file and direct deposit as a better alternative for those taxpayers who need the tax refund quickly.

“At this time, taxpayers who e-file and use direct deposit are able to receive their state refund in as few as three or four days,” said Fong. “The funds are in their checking or savings account and they avoid paying the high interest rates or other fees associated with the refund anticipation loan.”

Taxpayers are encouraged to visit the Tax Department’s web site, www.nd.gov/tax, for more information about e-file or direct deposit.

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