Scammers Want Your Stimulus Check And Tax Refund

Phoung Cat Le from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that a colleague of hers is the victim of income tax ID theft. A scammer filed her income taxes before she did, hoping to get a hold of her refund and stimulus check.

From the P-I:

Earlier this week, one of my colleagues sat down at her computer to file her income tax return electronically using TurboTax. Twice, her return was rejected. The message she got back was startling: the IRS already had a tax return filed under her Social Security number.

How could this be? She hadn’t filed yet.

Panicked, she called the Social Security Administration to make sure her name matched her Social Security number. It did. Then she called the IRS. A representative pulled up the tax return filed under her name and Social Security number, and asked to verify the address. It wasn’t hers.

A thief had filed a fraudulent tax return under her name, and would likely get her $1,000 refund, not to mention her $600 economic stimulus payment. Thus began her tedious task of clearing her name: filing a police report, filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, putting a fraud alert on her credit report and mailing in her tax return with copies of her driver’s license, police report and other documents to prove her identity.

The IRS doesn’t have any programs in place to prosecute or prevent this type of ID theft, but that may be changing because a new audit shows that tax-related ID theft is growing.

From the AP:

Douglas Shulman, who took over as IRS commissioner three weeks ago, said that by this fall the tax agency will have specially trained people on call to help victims of identity theft. He pledged that people with a problem will get through to a person who can help them.

“We understand the personal devastation that an individual feels when their identity has been stolen,” he said.

Has this happened to you?

When a thief steals your tax refund [Seattle P-I]
(Photo:BenPopken)