There you are awaiting your tax refund, only to find it has already been claimed by someone else. Scammers are ever on the cutting-edge of new ways to swindle you out of your money.
One of the newest forms of thievery is the filing of fraudulent tax returns with stolen identities to claim tax refunds. The scammers file a tax return under your name with your Social Security number before you get the chance. In 2011, the IRS reported a 500% increase in fake tax returns from the previous year. In response to this, the IRS is stepping up efforts to prevent and fight against this type of abuse which helped stop $1.5 billion in refunds from being sent to these criminals last year. If this happens to you, the IRS will work with you to ultimately get you the tax refund, but the process can cost you up to 6 months of frustrations and time trying to clear your tax record. Here are a few tips to help you spot if you may be next…
- Guard Your Info – Be careful about where you are giving your Social Security number. The IRS never asks for your SS number by email or phone. If you do receive fraudulent emails, report to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Watch for Warnings – If you receive a formal letter from the IRS, contact the agency immediately to determine what you can do.
- Don’t Help the Thieves – Scammers are now using your social networks to acquire your SS number. Particularly if you make your hometown and birthday public on the sites.
Photo Credit: Duodenum Rex