Tax Season Is Over, But The Tax Scammers Are Still Working
If you made it through the tax season without being a victim of identity theft or having had someone file taxes in your name, congratulations! Consider yourself blessed! Recent statistics say that the tax fraudsters have hit one out of every four taxpayers one way or another this year.
Some people even got hit more than once! If you are among those who got through unscathed, I have a suggestion that will help you out next tax season. Go to irs.gov and create an account in your name before someone else does. And, yes, complete strangers can create an account in your name if they have just a little bit of relevant information.
This recently published excerpt from an article on abcnews.com will help you understand how important it is to do this. “Our daughter passed away last year at age three and a half. When our accountant tried to electronically file our tax return, it was rejected because a scammer had already filed a return in my daughter’s name and applied for a refund. It took a couple of months of paperwork and back-and-forth to correct it.This week, when I filed my 2014 taxes, the electronic return again was rejected. My accountant said it was the same thing – someone had used our late daughter’s information to file a fake return.”
It’s easier to steal social security numbers than most people think. Until recently the public had access to a Social Security Death Master File. And even though the tax agency regularly locks down the accounts of deceased taxpayers, if someone steals the information and opens an account before it gets locked down, then that name is still active in the system.
You’ll want to establish an account as soon as possible, because if someone else creates an account in your name you’ll be locked out. It happens. The scammers create accounts then file taxes and get refunds in your name. Even if you have proof that you are who you say you are, someone else could establish that fact at irs.gov before you do. Though strange, it is unfortunately true.
Krebsonsecurity.com recently reported that this happened to someone who was attempting to establish an account at irs.gov only to find out that someone else had established one in his name. He called to report the fraud immediately and was told by the IRS agent that a refund was being direct deposited into a bank account in his name as they spoke. And to add insult to injury the agent wouldn’t give him the bank information because they had to protect the privacy of the “taxpayer” who in this case was the criminal.
The amount of the refund in this one incident was $8,936.00. The real crook turned out to be in Nigeria even though the account was finally traced to someone in the victim’s local area. That person who was the bank account holder had answered a Craigslist ad placed by someone looking for people who “wanted to make some money.” So, be careful. Take action.
Even though the last thing you want to think about right now is the IRS, do yourself a favor and go to irs.gov and establish an account in your own name.