Thieves have found ways to steal Social Security numbers and dates of birth, which are used to file bogus tax returns, reports Trib.com.
The fake returns claim fraudulent deductions and expenses. Victims often don’t know about the identity theft until they receive a notice from the IRS. People also are victimized by unscrupulous tax return preparers, claiming that they can obtain big refunds for clients, and they falsify deductions.
The agency has developed a unit to help people avoid being victimized, said an IRS field media relations specialist. “We tell people not to carry their Social Security number with them,” she said. Requests for Social security numbers over the telephone or via email should be treated with extreme caution.
To avoid bogus tax refund schemes, the IRS says that consumers should beware of scams such as the following:
(1) Unfamiliar for-profit tax services selling refund schemes to members of local churches.
(2) Internet solicitations that direct individuals to toll-free numbers and then seek Social Security numbers.
(3) Flyers and brochures implying that refunds are available without proof of eligibility.
(4) Claims related to the expired Economic Recovery Credit Program or for economic stimulus payments.
Once defrauded, untangling the mess is often difficult. “It’s usually a complicated case. It’s not a quick fix,” said the IRS specialist.
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