Despite the delayed filing start this year, the Internal Revenue Service says Georgians have been quick to file income tax returns. Georgians already have filed two million returns-- almost half of what's expected to be turned in by April 15th.
But the IRS warns that tax scammers also started early, stealing financial information and filing phony returns. IRS officials warn lots of folks are getting hooked by tax return scams they are receiving by text on their smart phones.
Thousands of Georgians had their identities and money stolen in income tax scams last year, and the IRS warns those crooks are back at work now.
"During the tax season scam artists come out. And they look for victims who they can seek their Social Security information or their checking or savings account information for their own personal gain," said IRS Media Relations Specialist Mark Green.
Bulletin board posting at Georgia colleges offer a phony thousand dollar education tax refund, has targeted students. "Hundreds and thousands of college students are coming to our offices around the state of Georgia, stating that they are waiting to get this one thousand dollars education refund, that does not exist," Green said.
The IRS said they are also seeing South Georgia churches and senior citizens in nursing homes being targeted by criminals for personal financial information. They file a fraudulent return using your real identity, inflate the return, and leave you holding the bag.
"Unfortunately here in Albany as well as around the whole state of Georgia, we have seen these types of scams that have developed."
The IRS says they are ramping up efforts to stop these tax cheats, using undercover agents to try to bring out the crooks. But they warn you to protect yourself, carefully choose your tax preparer if you use one, and always protect your personal financial information.
IRS officials estimate 3.7 million of Georgia's four million returns will be filed electronically, so that makes protecting your personal information even more crucial.
The IRS reminds you that they will never try to reach you through e-mail, a phone call, text, Social medial, Or Craig's List.