The Attorney General's Office has launched an investigation into Syams Tax Services. They say recruiters targeted the most vulnerable in their money making scheme.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott says recruiters with Syam Tax Services, a company out of Dallas, have been canvassing churches and senior centers for elderly people. More than 200 victims have fallen prey to the scheme.
"They tell the victims they are entitled to free money through a federal funds stimulus program," Abbott said.
Victims fill out the paperwork which includes social security numbers, bank accounts and other private information and hand it to Syam. The bogus tax returns are then filed with the IRS.
Weeks later it sends half of the money to Syam Tax Service and the other half to the victim.
"The IRS is even sometimes holding the innocent seniors liable to repay the entire amount that was scammed," Abbott said "They have taken advantage of disabled people, people on social security, low income people and that's not right."
The IRS and the Better Business Bureau have also launched investigations into Syam's wrongdoing.
In the meantime Abbott is reminding those most vulnerable that there isn't a federal stimulus benefit for low-income social security recipients. He advises everyone filing returns to be vigilant, especially with tax season in the coming months.
To avoid becoming a tax scam victim, the Office of the Attorney General urges Texans to take several steps before hiring a tax return preparation professional:
• Ask for the tax preparer's credentials.
• Check with the Better Business Bureau for complaints against the tax preparer.
• Verify whether the tax preparer is a certified public accountant.
• Make sure the business is open year-round in the event clients need to ask follow-up questions about their returns.
• Read the tax return carefully before signing it. Never sign a form with spaces left blank.
Texans who believe their identity was stolen should take the following actions:
• File a police report with the local law enforcement agency and keep a copy of that report. Many banks and credit agencies require such a report before they will acknowledge that a theft has occurred.
• Obtain an ID Theft Kit from the Texas Attorney General's Office.
• Contact the three primary credit reporting bureaus and request a security alert or freeze placed on the report.
• Request a copy of the credit report and review it for unauthorized account activity.
• Report unauthorized charges and accounts to the appropriate credit issuers and credit bureaus immediately by phone and in writing. Cancel the accounts.
• Immediately cancel credit and debit cards and get replacements if a purse or wallet was stolen. Put a "stop payment" on all lost or stolen checks.
• Free credit reports – Texans are able to obtain free copies of their credit report and can request one report from each of the three major bureaus. To order free copies of their credit report, Texans can go online at www.annualcreditreport.com or call (877) 322-8228.