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Effects of government shutdown felt in the Coastal Bend

Posted at 9:52 PM, Jan 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-11 23:30:27-05

The Better Business Bureau of Corpus Christi is concerned that more people will fall victim to scams while important portions of the federal government are closed.

“We do know with this government shutdown, it is going to leave people a little more vulnerable,” BBB Regional Director Kelly Trevino said.

The concern centers around the temporary closure of the Internal Revenue Service. A popular scam involves someone calling a victim claiming to be an IRS agent. The scammer then demands money or the victim will supposedly be arrested. Normally, the victim could call the agency to confirm that it’s a scam. But with the IRS closed, that call might go unanswered.

“If you do have those questions, you might want to see if you can get ahold of a legitimate tax preparer,” Trevino said.

The H&R Block tax service office on Ayers in Corpus Christi is rated A+ by the B.B.B. The office’s manager, Chris Holt, says they get lots of calls from people who’ve encountered the IRS scam.

“We get people calling us all the time,” Holt said. “I just tell them to hang up. The IRS doesn’t call. They’ll send you letters.”

Holt says his office is prepared to answer any questions you have about your taxes and the government shutdown, but for the most part, he says nothing’s changed as a result of the shutdown.

“People are still required to file on time, and they can also still get the refund advance with us,” he said.

Another effect of the government shutdown felt in the Coastal Bend is delayed home loans through the Federal Housing Administration which is closed right now.

“As these mortgages go unfunded and start to stack up, there may be potentially an issue down the road,” Bill Ayer, the MLS Director for the Corpus Christi Association of Realtors said.

Ayer says the local housing industry as a whole has not been affected by the shutdown, but delays in getting home loans is frustrating for buyers.

“It could cause issues for them contractually,” Ayer said. “It could cause them to lose the ability to buy the property.”