Authorities are warning residents throughout the Twin Cities and Minnesota that tax refund theft is happening.
There is a lot of movement during tax season, so it is very important for individuals to understand what is happening with their tax refund. While there are cases of tax refund theft, mainly in the form of identity theft, there are cases where individuals suspect that someone has stolen their refund when there may actually be a glitch somewhere.
So while there are legitimate claims of stolen refunds through simple theft and through identity theft, there are also those that are due to misunderstandings. That is why these cases have to be handled with a great deal of care.
Nonetheless, citizens have been advised to take steps to ensure their tax documents and return checks are secure and not exposed to possible identity theft. Identity theft in Minneapolis and St. Paul is much more common than what some may know. It is actually a major problem and it has led to tax-related identity theft becoming rather common.
In 2013, it was reported that 43 percent of identity theft is related to tax returns. The IRS reports that a simple way to prevent the possibility of identity theft is to file as early as possible. Scammers typically don’t have access to W-2 forms. Filing early means that the numbers are already entered into the system. If a scammer decides to try and steal your identity by entering random numbers, then they are not going to get by with it because the IRS already has the data. If the IRS doesn’t already have the legitimate return, then the legitimate return will be kicked out if the scammer gets to it first.
For those who have been accused of tax theft or tax-related identity theft, it is important to secure the help of an attorney in the matter. Sometimes things are not as they seem and the matter may be nothing at all.
For those who have experienced tax theft, it is also important to seek legal help and to report the theft to the authorities.
To prevent theft, the IRS tells individuals to do the following:
- Do not respond to a text message or email that claims to be from the IRS. The IRS does not initiate contact in this way. They always contact individuals by mail.
- Protect yourself against tax-related identity theft by protecting all of your personal information.
- If you file your return by mail, send it directly from the post office rather than from the unlocked mailbox in front of your home.
- If you file your return electronically, use a computer that is secure and not a Wi-Fi hotspot.
- File your taxes as soon as possible so you get your return in before a scammer can.
- Monitor all of your accounts and credit reports frequently so any identity theft can be identified as soon as possible.
Exercising these methods to protect information can keep a person from becoming a victim and can also prevent another from being the center of an investigation.