Identity theft has become a very real threat due to the increasingly popularity of the Internet. In fact, more than 13 million people became victims of this crime in 2012, and this number is expected to continue to increase. According to the IRS, at least 650,000 cases of identity theft have occurred during the tax filing process. In other words, it is has now become more crucial than ever to safeguard one’s identity to ensure that they actually receive their tax refund.
How are IRS Refunds Stolen?
Stealing tax refunds is becoming increasingly common because it is too difficult for the IRS to compare the income that is listed on each person’s return paperwork to their W-2 before they issue refunds. In other words, if someone gains access to another’s personal information, they can easily file a tax refund in their name by filling in a fake income amount. Unfortunately, it will probably take a minimum of 200 days before the IRS will even begin to take any noticeable action.
Additionally, there are some identity thieves who have become so brazen that they will even set up a website claiming to be a tax preparer. As soon as their so-called clients give them the necessary information, these thieves simply file a fake tax return and collect the money.
In order to file a fake tax return, a thief needs to gain access to a person’s social security number. Sadly, this information can be easily obtained from multiple sources, including an employer, a car dealership, a hospital or a doctor’s office, therefore it may be easy for the wrong person to be accused of the theft. If you are accused of stealing an identity or thievery, be sure to hire experienced help like a criminal lawyer in Orange County FL who knows how to protect your rights.
How do Thieves Gain Access to the Refund?
Most people choose to get their refund sent to them via direct deposit or a paper check. However, it is also possible to get the refund loaded onto a debit card. Therefore, thieves will purchase a debit card specifically for this purpose, and they will only use it to receive their ill-gotten gains. Once the money on the card has been removed, they will destroy the card to get rid of the evidence.
How can I Prevent My Tax Refund from Being Stolen?
There are several steps that you can take to prevent your tax refund from being stolen. Perhaps the single best way to stop someone from stealing your money is to file a refund as soon as you receive your W-2. After all, the IRS will only issue one refund per social security number, so the first person to file will receive the money.
It is also important to protect your social security number. For example, you should never disclose this information via email, and it is a good idea to avoid providing it over the phone. Additionally, you should contact the IRS immediately if you have any reason to suspect that your identity may have been stolen. Making them aware of the situation is the best way to ensure that they do not issue a refund to the wrong person.
Keep in mind that identity thieves can be very difficult to catch. In other words, the wrong person may be accused, it may take a long time for the situation to be satisfactorily resolved, and you may need to contact an attorney for assistance. In the meantime, it is vital to take every possible precaution to protect your identity.
Kelly Kovacic is a paralegal who wants to bring awareness to the fast growing identity theft crimes. You can protect yourself against identity theft by taking the steps mentioned above, however, thieves can gain access to your personal information through inside sources at many businesses. Anyone accused of thievery needs to know that there are tough penalties that could affect the rest of their life, so it is imperative they hire a dedicated professional, like a criminal lawyer in Orange County FL who will vigorously protect their rights regardless of the arrest circumstances.