April 2, 2021
Rockford, IL – March 30, 2021 – The IRS has extended the tax filing deadline from April 15th to May 17th. That extension also increases the probability of tax identity theft. I.D. Theft is a growing problem. 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. I and included in those numbers are those for tax i.d. theft. The Better Business Bureau says this a significant issue and should be top of mind for all taxpayers.
Tax identity theft occurs when someone uses a stolen Social Security Number to file a phony tax return and collect the refund. IRS imposters are scammers who pretend to be calling from the IRS.
Dennis Horton, director of the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau, says, “The imposters use a two-pronged attack. First, they’ll claim you owe back taxes and must pay up immediately. That’s the initial grab for your money. Second, they’ll need your SSN to help get this all cleared up. That’s the key to filing a false tax return and beating you to your tax refund.”
More often than not, the targets of tax identity theft or IRS impostors don’t find out they are victims until they file their tax return and it’s rejected as a duplicate filing.
Horton notes, “Last year’s average tax refund was more than $2,500. More than 150 million returns are expected to be filed this year. If the thieves and scammers are able to capture just a fraction of those dollars, they’ll get a big pay-off.”
Additionally, there is a concern about unethical “ghost” tax return preparers who do not sign the returns they prepare. Taxpayers must be pro-active in filing their return and safeguarding their refunds.
The Better Business Bureau offers these tips:
- Protect your SSN throughout the year. Don’t give it out unless there’s a good reason and you’re sure who you’re giving it to.
- File your tax return as early in the tax season as you can.
- Use a secure internet connection if you file electronically or mail your tax return directly from the post office.
- Research a tax preparer thoroughly before you hand over personal information. Go to bbb.org
- Check your credit report at least twice a year for free at annualcreditreport.com. Make sure no one has opened a new account in your name.
Also new this year, the IRS Identity Protection PIN, all taxpayers can voluntarily opt into the IP PIN program by using the Get an IP PIN tool at IRS.gov/ippin. The six-digit IP PIN prevents identity thieves from filing a tax return with their Social Security number.
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