Easy way ID thieves steal your tax returns, not much you can do about it

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

WASHINGTON – Federal agents say the crime of cyber crooks stealing your tax refund has suddenly gotten worse.

The real bad news is there are only a few ways to prevent it and not much can be done if you become the victim.

ID thieves have found a weakness in the IRS’ tax return procedure.

They know returns filed electronically don’t immediately require the all-important W2.

“When you file your tax return online, you don’t have to actually file your W-2 electronically,” Maneesha Mithal said, Federal Trade Commission Privacy and ID Protection. “So, they can make up the payroll information in order to get a tax refund in your name.”

That is why the tax refund you will soon be filling for with the IRS has become such a popular target for identity thieves.

ID protection specialists at the FTC said, in the last two years, stealing someone’s tax identity has become the fastest-growing form of ID theft.

Officials said it almost doubled in 2013.

It starts with a thief getting your Social Security number and then filling out phony wage info online leading to what privacy experts call a near-hopeless situation.

“The truth is if an identity thief has your number and your address, and they’re clever, you very well could be a victim and there’s not much you can do to prevent it,” Bob Sullivan said, author and privacy expert.

That’s why the FTC is launching a campaign this week, urging consumers to first and foremost protect their Social Security numbers.

They also stress consumers should act quickly on doing taxes this year.

“So if you get a jump on the identity thief by filing your tax return first, you can get your refund first,” Mithal said.

Sullivan said, “If it’s a race, you want to beat the criminals to getting your tax return in, right?”

The IRS has added staff to help but only after a tax filer figures out they’re a victim.

Latest News

More News

National News

More National

Washington D.C.

More Washington

Your Local Election HQ

More Your Local Election HQ

Latest News

More News

KFOR Digital Originals

More Digital Original


Follow @KFOR on Twitter

Border Report

More Border Report