With less than a week before the tax filing deadline, many Oklahomans are finding out someone else has already filed their tax return.
The IRS said identity thieves have been known to steal a social security number, fill out a fraudulent tax return, deposit the refund into a bank account, then close the account before getting caught.
Three weeks ago, Bryan Gillett got a letter warning him about this crime from the IRS.
“They said they would not be able to file our tax return because there was something wrong with it,” Gillett said.
However, Gillett said he hadn’t filed a tax return yet.
Turns out, someone else did; someone who stole his social security number.
“They (IRS) couldn’t tell me where it happened or when it happened and they advised me at that time to take measures to try to protect my identity,” he said.
The letter said Gillett’s tax return was selected for review because of the income reported, the tax withholding amounts listed, the claims for tax credits and the business income he supposedly reported.
Also listed on the letter was a woman who was not his wife.
Gillett said he had no idea who that person was.
“I don’t know but I’d sure like to find out,” he said. “You get spaghetti-legged and it was just like, ‘Oh no, what else have they possibly got a hold of,’ was my next thing.”
Gillett put a fraud alert on his credit report and reported the incident to the Federal Trade Commission.
The IRS said you should also check your credit report every year and review your bank statements and credit bills often.
They said you can request a copy of your credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com or call toll-free (877) 322-8228.
The shock of I.D. theft is a feeling Bob Motley is familiar with.
“Violated, yes,” he said.
Motley’s I.D. was stolen last year.
About $1,000 was taken out of his bank account.
“Evidently, I had put my social security number someplace I shouldn’t have (on a website),” he said.
Now he said he hopes to avoid what happened to Gillett.
“People need to be very, very careful about what they do with their social security number,” Motley said.
Gillett had advice to these I.D. thieves.
“Go out, get a job, work for your money like everyone else and earn a decent living,” he said.
Even though the IRS caught Gillett’s bogus tax return, he won’t be able to file electronically for three years and it could take more than six months for him to get his refund.
Contact the IRS if you feel you’re at risk for this crime.