MILWAUKEE - If you need fast cash before the holidays, make sure you double-check that loan application. It might take a lot more than you're hoping to get.
Today, the building is abandoned and the phone number goes into a filled voice mail box - then disconnects you. But less than a year ago, the Instant Tax Service near 81st and Appleton was the site of an angry exchange between taxpayers and office managers.
Customers complained the business offered short-term loans, but then took personal information from the loan paperwork and filed tax returns on their behalf - charging huge fees, which the company took *directly* from the returns themselves.
"This year we're looking for you," says Bureau of Consumer Protection Administrator, Sandy Chalmers. "And if we hear that you're here and ripping people off, we're going to come and find you, and we will investigate and we will prosecute."
Consumer Protection is joining the Department of Justice and the Wisconsin Department of Revenue to encourage taxpayers to voice complaints about tax prep places that may be conducting unethical, or even illegal business in wisconsin.
"By letting us know, we can step in and shut them down and that will prevent potentially hundreds more people from being ripped off," Chalmers says.