By the AllClear ID Team
Kelly here, with AllClear ID. As the tax-filing deadline fast approaches, weâ€™ve been keeping you up to date on how to avoid tax ID theft. However, as it often is with identity theft, the danger can seem abstract until it happens to somebody close to you.
Karen Greenwood, of North Carolina told her story to Good Morning America. Weeks after filing her taxes online, Karen logged in to check the status of the $2,300 refund she was expecting. In the place of an update was a note asking her to call the IRS. When she did, the IRS worker informed her that a return had already been filed under her name and SSN, but with a New Jersey address.
The refund she had planned on using to support her 74-year-old father was delayed until the issue was straightened out â€“ a process that ended up taking 10 months.
Dianne Woodford ran into a similar problem when filing her elderly motherâ€™s taxes. When she entered her information online, she was given an error message claiming that someone had already filed under that Social Security number. Dianne then called the IRS to find out what had gone wrong.
Luckily, the fraudulent tax return had been flagged due to its suspicious nature. However, Dianne still had to go through some extra hoops to ensure that her motherâ€™s taxes were filed correctly and on time. The tax return had to be sent by certified mail accompanied by a copy of identification. Finally, she had to freeze her credit to ensure that she didnâ€™t become victim to further fraud.
Unfortunately, this type of fraud can be committed easily, as â€œThe IRS isnâ€™t set up to authenticate tax returns or W-2 formsâ€. Filters to screen for major year-to-year changes have been recently added, but as we reported, they havenâ€™t been enough to stop the recent rise in tax related ID theft.
To avoid the fate of Karen and Dianne, the IRSâ€™s top tip is to file as early as possible. However, with the deadline fast approaching, this tip may come too late. For more advice, check out our Facebook page for Tax ID Theft Tip sheet.
Views expressed are the personal views of the author, and do not represent the views of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, its employees, its members, or its clients.