(KMOV.com) — If identity thieves can get personal information, they file tax returns and get big refunds.
They’ve stolen billions of tax dollars in past years and they’re creating victims early this tax season.
Just two weeks into tax season there have been three reported cases of tax return fraud in Arnold alone.
“So far this tax season we’ve taken three identity theft reports,” said Arnold Police Captain Robert Ruckman. “People have claimed they’ve submitted their taxes to the federal government and they’ve been told their refund has already been mailed out.”
Arnold police contacted the IRS and were told to fill out a police report for each claim so the feds can track how big the problem gets this year. Certified public accountants at Daniel Jones and Associates have seen the problem grow, each time following the same pattern.
“I had a client that I tried to electronically file his tax return and it was rejected, so I had to do some investigating,” said CPA Kate Patterson.
Her investigation found that someone got her clients personal information, went online and filed a tax return as them using numbers to get the biggest refund possible. In the past the best defense was to file early and beat the thieves to the punch. This year, they’re way ahead.
Victims are then stuck going through a lengthy process to prove they are the real person, not the fraud.
The best advice: protect your social security number, file early and be prepared to respond if the IRS rejects your return.