The tax filing season is
usually hectic enough for consumers without having to worry about being ripped
off by criminals, but the problem is that people who would commit identity
theft know this fact all too well. That is what brings them out of the woodwork
every single year around this time, in an attempt to gain access to some fast
cash and very sensitive personal information for potentially large numbers of
theft scams related to taxes have become far more prevalent in recent years, and can affect
consumers who aren't being extremely careful in a number of ways, according to
a report from Arkansas television station KATV. These can include filing
fraudulent tax returns based on stolen personal information (such as a victim's
name, address, and Social Security number); pretending to be a licensed
professional, but using the information gleaned from a potentially large number
of "clients" to commit fraud down the line, while simultaneously not
filing their returns, or submitting them with significant errors; and even
something as simple as stealing refunds and other sensitive tax documents from
their mailboxes and using them for their own personal gain.
a close eye
Fortunately, government agencies are moving to stamp out this problem in any
way they can, but that doesn't mean that taxpayers nationwide shouldn't be
extremely vigilant, the report said. The number of cases of reported
tax-related identity theft has skyrocketed in recent years, climbing into the
millions nationwide, and many victims don't even know they've been hit for
months at a time.
we've seen over the last couple of years is a substantial increase in tax ID
theft," Dustin McDaniel, attorney general for the state of
Arkansas, told the station. "You should file your tax return as early
as you're able to do. None of us want to file it early. We all want to put it
off until the last minute, but the sooner you can get it filed, the safer
you're going to be because it allows the IRS and [Arkansas Department of
Finance and Administration] to check for any duplicates."
consumers should try to avoid tax professionals who don't have a sterling
reputation that can be easily researched online, and should always take great
care to make sure their sensitive information is as safeguarded as possible.
For a more
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