Tax ID Theft Scams Increase

Tax ID Theft Scams Increase
Tax ID thefts are up more than 23,000 percent since 2013. Texas is number 8 in the nation for ID theft complaints. In the first six months of 2013 1.6 million taxpayers were affected by tax ID theft, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
Better Business Bureau officials say that number is dramatically increasing. They said those cases are resulting in billions of dollars in fraudulent refunds. 

"The FTC has recently announced that in 2014 they've had the highest number of complaints on tax ID Theft," said Cosme Ojeda from the BBB in Wichita Falls.

As W-2's finally make it to homes all across Texoma, more people need to be prepared for scammers. The BBB says tax ID theft is when someone steals your identity and files a tax report on your behalf.

"You typically don't find out until you go to file and the IRS sends you a back a letter saying you've already filed," said Ojeda.

Other times, they find out when they owe additional taxes or have collection actions taken against them, according to the BBB. The BBB also says that scammers will file the taxes using an online tax service. The online source requires very little personal information, and the information is easily obtained, according to Ojeda.

Three out of four ID fraud victims are victimized by someone they know. Those stealing your information could do so as easily as thumbing through your mailbox or finding old papers lying around your home, or by using a second tax scam.

BBB officials said they've received many reports of people making false calls and pretending to be the IRS. They said those people may be demanding your personal information and more.

"Wire them money, give them a pre-paid debit card, and a number," said Ojeda.  "That kind of information. So it seems unrelated, but it's possible it could be related in some instances."

 BBB officials said the only information they need is your name and social security number.

“Anytime you give your information you're opening yourself up,” said Ojeda. “So that's why we ask you to never give your information out, especially to people you do not know.”

He said the best way to beat the scammers is to file taxes right when you receive your W-2's. You can also keep your information safe by shredding copies of your tax return, drafts, and calculation sheets you no longer need, according to the BBB.

Keep in mind, the IRS won't contact you by email or social media. If the IRS needs your information the IRS will first contact you by sending a letter in the mail, according to the BBB. The FTC said almost 60 percent of Americans do not regularly lock their mailboxes. But taking a few extra steps could dramatically decrease your risk of tax ID theft.

Brittany Costello, Newschannel 6