Identity thieves are on the prowl as tax season is in full swing.
Thousands of people will have their identity stolen by criminals looking to swipe your return, but it’s not too late to make sure you get your money and leave thieves empty-handed.
“It happens every tax season to thousands and thousands of people,” said tax preparer and bookkeeper, Crystal Howerton.
Howerton said tax ID fraudsters file early because they have a ‘treasure trove’ of stolen personal information.
These thieves are eager to use that information to steal refunds.
“Sometimes it’s caught before they actually get a refund and sometimes it’s not,” Howerton said.
Experts said many are unaware that their identity has been stolen until they try to file.
“The unfortunate part is you can no longer e-file, now you must paper file and wait nine weeks for your return,” Howerton said.
If you become a victim, It could take some time to get your tax return.
“That’s usually the first thing that comes up is, ‘oh no should I be worried someone is out there opening accounts’ and usually all they are wanting is that refund,” Howerton said.
Always check your credit to make sure nothing else has been compromised, but Howerton said this problem isn’t going away anytime soon.
“This is only going to become more and more prominent,” Howerton said. “The IRS predicts about 234,000 are affected by this every year.”
If this type of theft happens to you, there are steps you can take to make sure you correct the issue before it gets worse.
“The worst thing you can do is ignore it, and not respond,” Howerton said. “Responding in a timely manner gets you in front of the IRS and potentially stops the crime from finishing and will help you in future years to e-file and get your returns in a timely fashion.”
If you think that your identity has been stolen this tax season, you can find steps to fix this issue by clicking here.