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ONLY ON 3: Customers surprised to find tax records sold after preparer’s death

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Before she died in July, Margaret Darden had spent most of her life preparing other people’s taxes.

But after her death her family sold her business, and with it her clients’ personal information. Now those customers are searching for answers.

Phyllis and Terry Perkins are just two of the loyal customers that always took their business to Margaret’s Taxes.

“Ms. Margaret has been doing my taxes approximately 15 years. She was excellent,” Phyllis said. “She had been in the tax service for at least 30 years before she moved down here. She is a very well known lady in the area.”

Darden died in july. Shortly after, her daughter sold her business to Zip Zap Income Tax.

“When we came over to her house to question the family, nobody was here, so we talked to the neighbor,” Phyllis said.

That neighbor did not want to go on camera, but she says she watched Darden’s family throw away files. The perkinses had no idea what happened to their information until they got a letter from Zip Zap.

“To receive this letter saying that they had sold her business to someone else with all of my personal information in there, yes, I was highly upset,” Terry said.

Kim Wilson is the manager of Zip Zap Income Tax. She did not want to go on camera, but she says they sent out letters to let Darden’s customers know about her death and to let them know they had purchased her business.

As for the Perkinses, Phyllis’s tax records were found, but her husband’s were not. Now he is worried that his personal information may be compromised, which happened to other family members.

“Someone stole their identity, and it took years for them to clean it up,” Terry said.

It’s a concern that keeps the couple up at night.

Regulators say federal law requires a client’s permission before any records are transferred.

Zip Zap Income Tax says if you were one of Margaret Darden’s customers and would like your tax records, you can stop by the office at 841 S. 17th Street and pick them up.

We tried to reach Darden’s family, but could not track them down.


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