EVERYBODY'S BUSINESS: Tax season is time for tax scams

Mar. 23, 2014 @ 05:00 AM

If you’re like me, you haven’t done your taxes yet. If so, beware of the rise in scams associated with tax season — and remember you have until April 15.

The Better Business Bureau has advised that researching tax-preparation companies ahead of time, in order to find reputable ones, will help not only cut down on the possibility of owing fines and fees for late work but also avoiding scams.

“The IRS recently issued warnings about online schemes that attempt to steal taxpayers’ identities,” the BBB reported. “Consumers are receiving scam e-mails that say there is an issue with a refund or that there is a delay in processing the tax return. Links in the e-mails usually go to a phony web site which asks victims to enter Social Security numbers, bank account or credit card information. The site may automatically install viruses or other malicious software on victims’ computers.”

And as always, they warn, something that seems too good to be true probably is: “Be wary of any tax preparation service that promises larger refunds than the competition and avoid tax preparers who base their fee on a percentage of the refund.”

In other news...

* As part of sequestration, Fort Bragg will close three on-base schools next year while also opening a new elementary school. The military will reportedly be offering separation packages for the teachers and staff who will be laid off.

* Chatham Ridge Assisted Living is still yet to open, but the facility’s information center will open April 3 with a ribbon cutting at 11:30 a.m. followed by a catered lunch. The information center is located at 143 Chatham Downs, Suite 302, Chapel Hill. The assisted living center itself will be located just south of the Orange County line off of 15-501 in Polks Village.

* Local education and manufacturing leaders have been talking a lot about a “skills gap” lately in which there’s high unemployment, but companies have open jobs that no one has the proper technology skills to do. A new website, www.balloon.com, aims to help narrow that gap. The website offers free online tech classes, and its developers claim those classes could lead to college degrees and job offers. Proceed with caution, however. Balloon is operated by the University of Phoenix’s parent company, which has a questionable track record at best. Its students are nearly twice as likely to default on their loans than to graduate, and you don’t have to be an economics major to know that’s not good.

* Business fluctuations: In the last week, four new corporations formed in Lee County — Blue Roof Strategies, John Jackson Farms, Redesign & Remodel and Steele Street Eats — and two were dissolved or withdrawn, Cristina’s Crafts & Confections, and MedTek Systems.

Have business news? Contact Will Doran at wdoran@sanfordherald.com or (919) 718-1217.