(NECN) - They promise to help people with thousands of dollars in tax debt find relief. The company known on television ads as "American Tax Relief" has been shut down by a federal judge.
Steven Weisman, professor at Bentley University and author of the book, "The Truth About Avoiding Scams" says that many companies that claim to have magical answers to tax woes are making promises they can't keep. He says that for 8 years, American Tax Relief was running "a real scam."
While there are some companies that can help people reduce their debt for a reasonable fee, he says that others "take advantage that there may be even a kernel of truth that you blow into the popcorn."
Weisman says very few people actually qualify for reducing tax penalties, and before they take any action, they should first talk with a good accountant or lawyer.
As for credit card debt, he says, "it's not like the tax relief, its not that bad, it's worse." Weisman says before you commit to help, type a company or a person into a Google search with the word "scam" next to it and see what comes up.