ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The income tax deadline is less than a month a way, and Internal Revenue Service officials say criminals are using more tax scams than ever to try to rip people off.
Georgia is 12th in the nation in the number of victims of tax identity fraud.
The IRS knows Georgians have lost at least $700,000 so far this year in IRS scams. They say the true losses are probably much higher.
"This has been a year where I have seen more than I have ever seen, ever working with the Internal Revenue Service over 30 years," said Internal Revenue Service Spokesman Mark Green.
IRS officials say Georgians continue to fall for phone and email schemes, where crooks claim to be from the IRS and threaten arrest if payments are not given immediately.
Investigators say even private business Human Resource officers have fallen prey, giving up dozens of employees financial information.
Green said "The Internal Revenue Service does not, and I repeat does not, contact individuals by telephone, by email, or text."
The IRS also warns Georgians to carefully choose their tax preparer. Pointing out ads from car dealers offering free tax preparation if you buy a car. The IRS says choose your tax preparer wisely, knowing you are trusting them with sensitive information.
"Your Social Security number, your checking, your savings account information. That's information you definitely only want to give to someone you absolutely, positively trust," said Green said.
IRS officials also urge you to use strong firewall and anti virus protection on your computer, with a strong password. Don't open links on suspicious emails.
If you get a phone call or email claiming to be from the IRS, just hang up or delete it.
Guard your sensitive information. Don't carry your Social Security Card and lock up your old tax forms.
The IRS says nationally $29 million has been lost to scammers, who Investigators say range from local crooks to multinational criminal enterprises.
You can find more information to protect yourself here.