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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

March 19, 2024 - 9:22am --

Tax Day, April 15, is fast approaching, and research indicates that the closer we get to it, the more frequent are the emails, texts and phone calls for tax schemes.  How might we protect ourselves and others we may be helping?  Here are some tips shared by the State Attorney General’s office.

Know your return preparerMany people could prepare their tax return, but they feel more confident having someone else prepare the document for them. Be careful when choosing a tax preparer. Most provide excellent service and do so in an ethical manner. However, some do not have your best interest in mind and are looking for a way to cheat the system. These preparers file false and fraudulent tax returns and ultimately defraud their clients. According to the IRS, even if someone else prepares your return, you are ultimately responsible for all the information on the tax return. Ensure you agree with all the numbers provided on your return before you sign it for submission.

Abusive Tax Schemes - most of us are familiar with phishing, the e-mail technique hackers use to gain personal information.  There’s a variety of techniques being used that are less obvious and more sophisticated all the time. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is.  If it’s threatening enough to make you nervous or scared, it’s likely not true information.  Scammers count on our emotional reactions to override our logical thought processes.

Smishing - This term was new to me, it's a type of warning about a problem that includes a link to the solution in the e-mail.  If you get one of these messages, DON’T reply or click the link.  If you receive one of these, report any scam by sending the email or a copy of the text to

The IRS never initiates contact with taxpayers by email, text, or social media - regarding a bill or tax refund. Usually, the first communication from the IRS will be a letter. Therefore, some scammers will send actual letters. You can easily log in to the website with your account information to see a copy of any notice or letter in your file. There is also a section of the IRS website called “Understanding Your IRS Notice or Letter” that shows examples of common letters that are truly sent from the IRS.

After first mailing a notice or letter to a taxpayer, IRS agents may call to confirm an appointment or discuss items for a scheduled audit. Know that these will not be prerecorded messages. Also, they will never threaten to arrest a person for not complying.

In 2023 the IRS announced a major policy change that will end most unannounced visits to taxpayers by agency revenue officers. They hope this will reduce public confusion and enhance overall safety measures for taxpayers and employees.

In Ohio, we have the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to educate about consumer protection and to investigate fraud. Some other offices and departments can handle specific types of complaints such as the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel. They advocate and educate to secure affordable, reliable, and equitable residential utility services like electric, gas, and water.

Imposter, investment, social media scams

People lost $10 billion to scams in 2023. That’s $1 billion more than 2022 and the highest ever in reported losses to the FTC. About 2.6 million reports were filed. One in four people reported losing money to scams, with a median loss of $500 per person. Email was the top contact method for scammers this year, especially when scammers pretended to be a business or government agency to steal money.

Here are the top 3 scams from 2023:

Imposter scams. Imposter scams remained the top fraud category, with reported losses of $2.7 billion. These scams include people pretending to be anyone from a government employee to a family member. These are the types to be on the lookout for: your bank’s fraud department, “the government”, a relative in distress, a well-known business, or a technical support expert.

Investment scams. Though investment-related scams were the fourth most reported fraud category, losses in this category grew. People reported median losses of $7,700 – up from $5,000 in 2022.

Social media scams. Scams starting on social media accounted for the highest total losses at $1.4 billion – an increase of 250 million from 2022. But scams that started with a phone call caused the highest per-person loss ($1,480 average loss). Resist the urge to answer the phone unless it is a number from someone you know.

For more information visit this website from the Consumer Protection Bureau, They have lots of information, including short videos, with a variety of tips to avoid scams and fraud.


Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722 or
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