Tax Time is Open Season for ID Thieves
Tax Day is on the horizon. It’s a date that few consumers look forward to. For many of us, April 15 brings to mind headache-inducing forms, meetings with accountants or tax preparers, and long lines at the Post Office. However, there is one group that increasingly looks forward to tax season as lucrative: identity thieves.
Brian Karrick, a meteorologist in Minneapolis, was shocked to see that someone else was using his identity to file taxes. "It's one of those things where you don't necessarily think you're going to be the one to have this happen to you," said Karrick in a recent KARE 11 TV report. "I'm looking at the computer going, 'how is it that somebody used my Social Security Number?'"
Karrick is not alone. According to the Department of Treasury, 1.6 million consumers were affected by tax identity fraud in the first six (6) months of 2013 alone. Recently a single fraudster named Rashia Wilson, who openly referred to herself as the “queen of IRS tax fraud,” pleaded guilty in 2013 to fraud charges totaling at least $3 million.
Tax identity fraud is difficult to catch before the fraud occurs. However, consumers who fall victim to tax identity fraud often discover it.
Unfortunately, there is no foolproof way of avoiding tax identity fraud. Since social security numbers and other personal information are so widely available on cyber black markets, chances are that scammers already have the information they need to commit tax identity fraud against many, if not most, American consumers.
Tax identity theft is the use of someone else’s personal information to file a fraudulent tax return or claim tax benefits. This fraud is particularly pernicious because the legitimate taxpayer may have no way of knowing that fraud has been committed.
Identity theft is a serious crime that can significantly and negatively affect your ability to obtain credit, get a job, or obtain medical care, just to name a few.