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Buyer beware: Holiday loans come with a cost, tax preparer says

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — If you're strapped for cash, a holiday loan may seem like an easy way to put extra money in your pocket before Christmas. But be careful, because those loans could cost even more in the long run.

The promise of quick cash around the holidays seems convenient and sounds like the perfect way to buy gifts, or pay bills. It's why you see promotions from tax preparation companies for holiday loans or advance payments.

That convenience comes with a cost, according tax preparer William Pilot of Pilot`s Income Tax and Bookkeeping Service.

"It looks attractive for people. Yeah it does, but you don't get something for nothing," Pilot said.

He doesn't offer holiday loans, and says he's had clients who've had problems after taking them out.

Year after year, News Channel 3 has gotten complaints too, from customers who received holiday loans and had no idea they're taxes would later be filed, to others who said the preparer deducted way more than the loan amount from the refund.

Pilot says the preparer is trying to get them in the door, to get them committed, knowing that they can't actually file a tax return for them at that time.

So keep in mind, Pilot says, that the pitch is tied to the company filing the customer's taxes after the first of the year.

And while even some large, well known companies tout no-interest loans, not everyone qualifies.

"Most loans are based on credit worthiness, not necessarily on the fact that you may be getting a refund." >

which means there can be steep, hidden fees tied to the loan, reducing the amount of the tax refund if you get one," Pilot said. "Another thing that taxpayers need to watch out for, is making their data available to individuals that may not have been in business very long or they don`t know anything about."

Pilot says protecting your information is critical, because the risk isn't just someone filing taxes incorrectly, or without your consent, but opening up accounts in your name.

 

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