TOPEKA (KSNT) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has put out a warning to Kansas residents to be wary of scams during the tax season.

According to Schmidt, the Consumer Protection Division was experiencing an increase in calls and emails from Kansans who are being targeted by scammers who are offering to help out by filing their tax returns. The scammers will often promise to expedite a taxpayer’s refund that is due back from the Internal Revenue Service or from the state government.

Schmidt also warned Kansans about the prevalence of identity theft. These thieves use the information they get to file a tax return and claim a fraudulent refund. Most people may not even be aware of the theft until they get a message from the IRS that more than one return was filed in their name or that there was a discrepancy in their filing. At that point, the tax refund is already in the possession of the scammer.

Another scam the Attorney General’s Office warned about is when someone impersonates the IRS. The scammer will claim that the victim owes taxes and demands that the citizen pay immediately over the phone, often with a gift card or pre-paid debit card. The scammer may even threaten to arrest the victim. The true IRS will never threaten to arrest individuals over the phone, according to Schmidt. His solution to this scam is simple: just hang up.

A scheme that bears resemblance to the IRS imposter involves a con artist obtaining a taxpayer’s personal data, including their Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number and bank account information. The scammer files a fake tax return and has the refund deposited into the taxpayer’s checking or savings account. Once the direct deposit enters the bank account, the fraudster calls the victim posing as an IRS employee. The victim is told that there has been an error and that the IRS needs the money returned immediately or penalties and interest will result. The victim is instructed to buy specific gift cards for the amount of the refund.

Schmidt goes on to say that taxpayers should carefully consider whether to take a refund anticipation check or refund advance loan. Neither of these means that the IRS will issue a tax refund faster. Refund anticipation checks often include having to pay fees for the delay in paying tax preparation costs. A refund advance loan may mean cash now, but often times fees and any interest will be taken out of the tax refund. As with all financial products or services, consider all fees, charges and timing to help you make a financial decision that is best for you.

Neither the Kansas Department of Revenue nor the IRS will demand that people use a specific method of payment such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer, according to Schmidt. The IRS will not ask for debit or credit card numbers over the phone. Those who owe federal taxes should make payments to the U.S. treasury or review IRS online for options here. Credit card payments may only be made for Kansans if the consumer initiates the call or transaction.

For more information, call the KDR Customer Service Center at 785-368-8222 or send an email to KDOR_IncomeEServ@ks.gov for individual taxpayers or KDOR_BusinessTaxEServices@ks.gov for businesses. If you believe that you have been the victim of tax-related identity theft, go here. You can also call the AG’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-432-2310 or reach them online here.