Rockford Better Business Bureau Says Tax I.D. Theft On The Rise
For many people, the idea of having someone else doing your taxes is very appealing, assuming that you've hired them to handle that task. It stops having any appeal when you find out that someone did your taxes without your knowledge.
Wait, who would do someone's taxes for someone else for free? The answer is scam artists who've stolen your Social Security Number and have filed a tax return in your name.
Dennis Horton is the Director of the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and during our recent on-air interview he pointed out that I.D. theft is a constantly growing problem. Dennis mentioned a recent Federal Trade Commission report shows that 1.4 million identity theft complaints were filed in 2020, which is nearly double the number filed in 2019.
One of the worst aspects of this type of crime is that you, as the victim, usually have no idea that someone swiped your personal information and filled out a tax return in your name until you go about sending in your return and find out that it's been rejected by the IRS.
Another way that people find themselves on the wrong side of a scam is when an imposter, purporting to be from the IRS, calls a potential victim and tells them that they're behind in their tax payments and must correct the situation immediately. They may hit you up for payment via gift cards (always a red flag for a scam), or ask for your Social Security Number to "clear things up." Once they have your Social Security Number, they're off to the races to file a return in your name.
Dennis says the best way to avoid being taken in this scam or similar scams is to guard your Social Security Number closely, file your tax return early, and check your credit report frequently.
Another tool that will help is the IRS's Identity Protection PIN. The six-digit IP PIN prevents identity thieves from filing a tax return with the victim's Social Security number. You can click here for more information on the IRS Identity Protection Pin.