ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - An Orlando tax preparation company Action 9 first exposed three years
ago is being sued by one state and now faces a Florida investigation into whether it made deceptive sales.
Consumers told Action 9's Todd Ulrich that they were slammed with hundreds of dollars in hidden fees.
The company advertised $75 tax preparation. But many customers said they were nailed for hundreds more.
Action 9 first uncovered complaints against LBS Tax Services and its chain of outlets in 2010.
This year, many consumers made similar claims.
Marlisha Jones said the company slammed her for $800 on a simple return, and she can't understand why it keeps
happening to others.
"I think something should have been done so other people would not have to go through that," said Jones.
But LBS Tax Services, based in Orlando with offices across the southeast, will have to answer to two state investigations. First, the company faces a trial in Texas next month after the state's attorney general filed a lawsuit accusing LBS of widespread income tax fraud.
A court order froze company assets. State investigators said employees charged phony fees and made serious errors because of incompetence or intentional fraud.
According to the Central Florida Better Business Bureau, 76 customers there claimed LBS turned a small fee into hundreds or even thousands in charges.
"They were never made aware, it was never disclosed in the fine print or verbally that the fees would be exorbitant," said BBB Vice President Holly Salmons.
And Action 9 confirmed Florida's
attorney general is investigating LBS Tax to see if it practiced unfair and deceptive trade. The agency has complaints from consumers like Jones who claim hidden fees cheated them.
"They should not be able to take people's money," said Jones.
A company attorney told Action 9 LBS will prove its innocence in Texas, and it's already encouraged by several court findings.
In Texas and Florida, the state will seek
refunds and restitution for LBS customers.