Two Murfreesboro residents are among the thousands across the country who've fallen victim to what the I-R-S calls it's number one fraud. Identity thieves are using stolen personally identifiable information to file victims' tax returns and then receive their refunds.
On Saturday, a North Tennessee Boulevard woman called Murfreesboro Police after being advised by her tax professional that her taxes were already filed. This despite just receiving her W-2 paperwork.
A Maricopa Drive woman attempted to use tax software to file her return, only to have it rejected due to it already being on file. After contacting the I-R-S to confirm, she told them she did not file or authorize a return and that her identify has been compromised.
Tax-refund fraud is expected to total $21 billion in 2016.
While the Better Business Bureau says this type of fraud is tough to prevent against - beyond taking steps to safeguard your personal information - they share some steps to mitigate the situation.
- safeguarding your Social Security number and other sensitive personal information
- filing your tax return as promptly as possible
The IRS offers some additional identity protection tips for taxpayers:
- Always use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections. Make sure the security software is always turned on and will automatically update. Encrypt sensitive files such as tax records you store on your computer. Use strong passwords.
- Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, threatening calls and texts from thieves posing as legitimate organizations such as your bank, credit card provider or even the IRS. Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails.
- Guard your personal data. Don't routinely carry your Social Security card, and make sure your tax records are secure. Treat your personal information like you do your cash; don't leave it lying around.
Be alert to possible tax-related identity theft if you are contacted by the IRS or your tax professional/provider about:
- More than one tax return being filed using your SSN.
- Owing additional tax; your refund being offset; or if you've had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return.
- IRS records indicate you received wages or other income from an employer for whom you did not work.
If your SSN has been compromised or you know - or suspect - that you are a victim of tax-related identity theft, the IRS recommends that you:
- Respond immediately to any IRS notice; call the number provided or, if instructed to do so, visit IDVerify.irs.gov.
- Complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, if your e-filed return is rejected because of a duplicate filing under your SSN or if you are instructed to do so. Use a fillable form at IRS.gov, print, then attach the form to your return and mail according to instructions.
- Continue to pay your taxes and file your tax return, even if you must do so by paper.
SOURCE: MPD Incident Reports #16-1980, #16-1967, BBB