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Attorney: Get local help for tax problems

READ MORE: Attorney: Get local help for tax problems

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- You may have seen ads on TV advertising help for people with tens of thousands of dollars of tax debt. The problem is putting your trust in those companies can cost you big time.

The offers seem too good to be true. They are. So says Wilmington attorney Rick Graves, who sees people come into his office all the time after being burned by companies like American Tax Relief. By the time they come in, Graves says their tax debt is the least of their worries.

"Probably every week, at least several times a month, I have clients who come in after dealing with one of these national companies," Graves said.

The Federal Trade Commission recently filed a lawsuit against American Tax Relief saying it has been engaging in "deceptive practices" in its advertising. The FTC said the company's owners live lavish lifestyles and prey on the desperation of the financially distressed.

"Once you talk to them, before you pay them everything sounds great," said Palmer Watkins, who was scammed by another company promising tax help. "They go through every little piece, and once you pay them, what happened to me was over a year and a half they have like five things they need, but you never get to the end of that. Then the person you're dealing with leaves. Then you have a new person."

Watkins put his trust and his money into a company called Tax Care Pros. He says he never actually met with anyone. He only spoke to them on the phone.

"That's the biggest thing, I would say. What I spent on them and got nowhere, I could have spent locally and shake someone's hand and know what you're getting," Watkins said.

Graves says he just wants to make sure no one else gets had by companies like this in the future.

"Hey, Wilmington residents. Don't get scammed by companies like American Tax Relief," Graves said. "Use professionals here that will always be here for you."

The moral of the story is be aware. Don't get tricked, and if it seems too good to be true, chances are it probably is.

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