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**CONSUMER ALERT** CFO Jimmy Patronis: Tax Season is Here, Stay On Guard for Scams

CFO Jimmy Patronis: Tax Season is Here, Stay On Guard for Scams 
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With recent reports that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) expecting backlogs, staffing shortages and delays in returns, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis warns Floridians to be aware of scam artists looking to use this news as their latest play to your steal sensitive financial information for personal gain. To help taxpayers safeguard themselves from scams, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides tips and resources so individuals and families can stay protected.

CFO Jimmy Patronis said, “With tax season opening this week, now is the perfect time for fraudsters to begin ramping up and looking to make a quick buck by scamming their next victim. I have no doubt that with the current confusion in DC, we could see tax fraud on the rise. It is critical for Floridians to stay on-guard and know what to look out for so you can stop a potential scam before it happens. Always beware of IRS imposters and do your homework before using a tax professional or online tax filing service. If you are suspicious of fraud, report it immediately at FraudFreeFlorida.com.”

• Beware of IRS imposters. Don’t wire money or pay with a prepaid debit card. The real IRS won’t ask you to pay with prepaid debit cards or wire transfers. Once you send it, the money is gone.

• Pass imposter information on to a friend. You may not have gotten one of these calls, but the chances are you know someone who has.

• Use a secure connection when filing online. Use a secure internet connection if you file electronically or mail your tax return directly from the post office.

• Do your homework. Research a tax preparer thoroughly before you hand over personal information. If you have tax questions, go to the IRS directly at irs.gov or call the IRS at 800-829-1040.