Prevent someone from stealing your refund!
By Cathy Steinberg on January 19, 2013
Well it's that time of year again. The tax deadline is right around the corner. You should be receiving your w-2 or 1099 from your employer within the next month. If you are like a lot of Americans, you probably don't pay too much attention to the process or the deadline til around April. Once April arrives you scramble furiously trying to figure out what you need in order to get your filing done. Sound familiar?
Let me tell you about the growing plague called - Tax Filing Fraud. TFF is when someone else files for your refund while you procrastinate. There is a network of people who have access to your personal information. Information you have given willingly such as at a doctor's office, hospital, credit card company, etc... At each of these places you have filled out forms giving them your full name, date of birth, and social security number. Think about how many places you have been and filled out those forms and just handed it over to some person you don't know and trusted them with your most valuable personal information.
At one time, insurance companies used your social security number as your I.D. number but that is no longer the case. They recognize the exposure to fraud and mask your private information with a generic number. So giving your social security number at a doctor's office or hospital is unnecessary.
Let's be honest, Dr Fixme is probably not doing a criminal background check on his front office staff. This is just one way to have your information stolen.
Thieves also steal your mail and credit card statements to gather additional information about you they will need.
- Some will open bank accounts in your name for the direct deposit refund from the IRS then withdraw the funds and close the account.
- Some will request a debit card refund which is when the IRS gives you your refund in the form of a debit card. (For those souls who don't have bank accounts OR can't figure out a way to open one in your name)
The issue here is that the IRS will process the return and issue a refund even when there are red flags. Uuugh! The customary practice is to process the refund THEN send a letter questioning the return 8 weeks later. How's that for efficient?
Last year alone there was approximately 4 billion in false returns filed....BILLIONS. Cash wasted and gone because the federal government feels it cannot keep up with the false information. So they give away the money and ask questions later.
What happens next you say. Well if you are a victim you have to then file the correct return and the IRS initiates an investigation. The process will take up to a year to year and a half to complete before you see your money. Now if you are like me, you cannot afford to wait to get your refund. You need to fraud-proof your tax return.
Here are a few tips you could do now while you wait for your W-2 to arrive:
- Go online and get the year-end mortgage summary for your home to reflect how much interest you have paid in 2012
- Get the year-end payment summaries for car, boats or anything else you pay interest on.
- Gather the receipts of any big-ticket item you may have purchased and paid taxes on this year. (i.e. - car, boat, big screen TV. etc..)
- If you have children, get receipts for any medical costs you may have incurred for the year.
- If your children are in daycare, get a receipt from the daycare showing the balance you paid for the year and the school's tax I.D. number.
- Year end investment account reports.
- Child support or alimony payment amounts.
- Donation amounts
- Medical expenses
- Bank interest income
- CALL YOUR ACCOUNTANT. Ask them what else you will need to file your taxes quickly and don't wait.
- Insist your accountant file your return immediately. Do not let him finle an extension. If they don't have time to file timely then it may be time to find another accountant.
Time is not on your side here. Thieves will file quickly so you need to have all your information ready to file as soon as your W-2 arrives.
The IRS will not help you stop this from happening so you need to take the precautionary steps to stop it yourself. Also remember tax fraud is a federal offense which means your local police will not be able to help you. They could help with the identity fraud portion but that is it. They cannot help you recover the money. You will have to contact the federal authorities about your theft...and well... good luck with that! Although it is a big deal to you, your $1,500 return is not to them. The position they take on the matter is that you are not the victim, the government is. Since you will eventually get your money back from the government you don't have a legal standing to file a report.
Bam! How's that for a slap in the face?
Be proactive and get your ducks in order. Show those degenerate thieves they wasted their time trying to take YOUR money.
I will update this information with new strategies as they become available.
Be Safe, Fearless and Fabulous!
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