As you get ready to file your tax returns, be wary of thieves trying to beat you to the punch. Tax identity theft is one of the fastest growing forms of theft in the United States.
Tax identity theft mostly occurs when your personal information is stolen for a fraudulent refund. More specifically, tax identity theft can involve:

  • filing a tax return using another person’s Social Security number,
  • claiming someone else’s children as dependents, or
  • claiming a tax refund using a deceased taxpayer’s information.

A typical identity theft starts when thieves (illegally) buy or steal information from individuals, employers, hospitals, nursing homes or other similar places. With a Social Security number or list of numbers, they file false tax returns. In one case investigators found a single address that was used to file 2,137 tax returns for $3.3 million in refunds.
What would tax identity theft look like to you? Often your first sign won’t come until after you’ve filed your return – when you receive a notice from the IRS that more than one return was filed for you. By that time, the scammer has pocketed the refund from the fraudulent return.
What to do?
To avoid tax identity theft, consider these tips:

  • Do mail tax returns as early in the tax season as possible before the cons beat you to it.
  • Don’t give out personal information unless you know who’s asking for it and why they need it.
  • Do shred personal and financial documents.
  • Do know your tax preparer.
  • Do check the status of your refund after filing at http://www.irs.gov/Refunds.

And, if you think someone used your Social Security number for a tax refund — or the IRS sends you a notice or letter indicating a problem — contact the IRS immediately (IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit: 800-908-4490; www.irs.gov/identitytheft). Specialists will work with you to get your tax return filed, get you any refund you are due, and protect your IRS account from identity thieves in the future.

Tax Identity Theft Awareness http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0029-tax-identity-theft-awareness-week
Learn more about how to protect yourself from tax fraud, and check out this video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=1l7GZCtGQko&x-yt-cl=84503534&x-yt-ts=1421914688

Questions?- Contact the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office Crime Prevention Unit-
Central Station- Dave Crozier 759-6675 crozierd@co.monterey.ca.us
Coastal Station- Donna Galletti 647-7909 gallettid@co.monterey.ca.us

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