Hopefully, you got your taxes in on time. However, even after you’ve filed your return, there’s one other thing you need to consider. Tax Refund fraud is on the rise. The IRS saw a 66% increase between 2012 and 2013 in identity theft-related criminal investigations. In Identity Theft Refund Fraud, a thief files a false tax return in your name and then collects a tax refund.
The Dangers of Identity Theft
Identity Theft accounted for 14% of the more than 2 million complaints to the FTC in 2013. According to the FTC, Americans lost a staggering $1.6 Billion to fraud in 2013. That’s exactly why you need to keep your guard up and protect your identity.
How Do You Know If You Are a Victim of Tax Refund Fraud?
Many victims are unaware of the fraud until they file their tax return. They may receive a letter from the IRS stating that their taxes have already been filed and a refund payment has been issued. Another possible sign is that you may receive wage documents from an employer that you do not know. And lastly, you could receive paperwork or calls stating that you have a balance due or collection actions have been taken against you for your not filing your taxes.
Protect Your Identity
While “The IRS continues to seek out and identify additional tools…to combat the proliferation of tax-related identity theft,” you can protect yourself with your own research.
The IRS offers examples of Identity Theft Schemes on their web site so you’ll know what to watch for, along with some ways to protect yourself from these schemes. They include regular credit monitoring, protecting your social security number (SSN), individual taxpayer id number (ITIN), financial information, and personal information, along with maintaining adequate computer security, including firewalls, anti-spam software, and good password policies.
The Federal Trade Commission advises anyone who spots a scam, is the victim of identity theft or other fraud-related issues to file a complaint online with the agency’s Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357).
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