16 February 2006

H&R Block sued (again) over Refund Anticipation Loans

My first real post was an explanation of the scams that "instant tax refunds" truly are. On Wednesday, California joined the legion of states suing H&R Block over their use of Refund Anticipation Loans

Lockyer wants Kansas City, Missouri-based H&R Block to reimburse customers in an amount he said could reach the hundreds of millions of dollars, and pay a civil fine of at least $20 million.

H&R Block said the lawsuit lacks merit. Lockyer filed his 20-page complaint in state superior court in San Francisco.

In December, H&R Block said it agreed to pay $62.5 million to settle four class-action lawsuits over the loans. Last May, a federal judge in Chicago rejected a $360 million nationwide settlement raising similar issues, calling the sum inadequate.

That's all well and bad, but the last part of the complaint should also draw a lot of focus.

Lockyer also accused the company of sharing customer's tax return information without consent, and using it to market other financial products and collect debts.

Holy disbarment, Batman! Sharing client's personal tax data is like numbers 1, 2, and 3 on the "Preparers Don't Do" checklist.

So, you go to H&R Block to prepare your tax return. You get strongarmed into a loan at a rate that makes Freddy the Fish jealous and then they sell YOUR TAX RETURN DATA to market other products to you.

Wow. Simply wow. The more I learn about this company, the more I have to stress that NO ONE should take their returns there. I'm so glad I didn't take a tax season job there a few years ago like I could have. I'd have an extremely guilty conscious right about now.

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