Bryan Cohen Jan. 16, 2014, 3:53pm

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Legal Newsline) - Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine warned consumers on Monday to protect their personal information and watch for scams related to taxes.

DeWine made the announcement in recognition of Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week, which takes place between January 13 and January 17. Last year, DeWine's office received more than 100 complaints concerning tax-related identity theft.

"At this time of year, consumers are at a higher risk for tax-related identity theft and scams," DeWine said. "Ohioans can help protect themselves by researching the reputations of tax preparers, using secure websites when filing taxes online, and filing tax returns as soon as possible."

Tax identity theft can occur when an imposter obtains the personal information of a taxpayer and files the taxpayer's return. This allows the scam artist to receive a refund on behalf of the taxpayer.

Scam artists may also engage in IRS imposter scams where con artists pretend to represent the IRS and claim consumers owe money for taxes. The scammers then request payment by prepaid money card or wire transfer.

DeWine recently reached a settlement with two Cleveland-area tax preparers to resolve allegations they did not clearly disclose the costs of tax preparation services and refund loans.

Fekadu Enterprise Co. and Protax LLC, doing business as Get Money Tax Service, and Jeff Saxton, the president of ANC Development, an Instant Tax Service Franchise, agreed to assurances of voluntary compliance with DeWine's office. The two preparers agreed to not file tax returns without consumers' authorization, not misrepresent loan fees or terms and clearly disclose costs.

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