Consumer Alert: Costly Tax Advice

IRS Logo over tax forms, receipts, and paperwork. AP / CBS

Facing a stack of student loans Brandi Fertos was looking for ways to save money when she heard a radio ad by a company promising to, "custom design a tax plan based on your income level," and an average of "about a 20 percent reduction in your taxes."

The company, called Tax Ready, promised a guaranteed tax savings of $3,000 through books and counseling sessions with ex-IRS agents.

Instead, she says, she received, "a product that doesn't exist."

"It's all-out fraud," says Fertos.

She had one 10-minute counseling session. Others claim they received information they could have obtained for free at the library or online. And when Fertos asked for her money back, which the company guaranteed, "Nobody ever called me back, not once, not ever."

That was two years ago and she's still out almost $600. Tax Ready and a company called National Audit Defense Network have since merged and operating as NADN. The company has racked up enough complaints to get the Federal Trade Commission and the Nevada attorney general involved.

"We do take this type of operation and the harm to consumers very seriously," says Nevada Deputy Attorney General Kathleen Delaney.

A lawsuit was filed on behalf of at least 700 victims who claim they didn't get their money back when requested. The Las Vegas Better Business Bureau says others claim they've gotten bad or useless tax advice on top of huge losses.

One man gave them $9,000.

In addition to the two ongoing cases against NADN, sources tell CBS News the Internal Revenue Service has now launched its own investigation of the company.

Wes Coolidge now owns NADN, and blames the problems on overzealous sales people.

"This history of some bad boy behavior on our part was very small," he says. "We've taken significant steps to correct those problems."

Still, others have their doubts and daily complaints that allege NADN is still not living up to it's guarantees.
  • Jaime Holguin

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