Make Ends Meet: Protection from tax identity fraud

The number of identities stolen escalates every year, along with the money and the peace of mind also stolen from its victims.
Published: Apr. 15, 2022 at 8:56 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - April is Financial Literacy Month, and April 18 is the filing deadline in 2022 for most taxpayers.

The number of identities stolen escalates every year, along with the money and the peace of mind also stolen from its victims. Learning what it takes to protect yourself from identity theft and the chaos it brings may take a little time and knowledge, but the payoff is worth it.

Tax identity fraud can spill over into about every area of personal and financial life.

GBG Americas, a leader identity verification and fraud prevention, found people are worried about not only their cash but theft and damage to their identities.

“Our research shows that 85 percent of Americans are deeply concerned about cyber security, but unfortunately, only about half know how to protect themselves,” Christina Luttrell, Chief Executive Officer at GBG Americas said.

To get protected from any type of identity theft, people must be more than concerned. They must be vigilant.

The sooner someone discovers they are a victim of any identity theft, the sooner they can take action to minimize the damage.

“I think we can all assume that our data is out there for sale on the dark web,” Lutrell proclaimed.

WAVE News viewer Antonio Thompson reached out, not only to gain information on what to do if one becomes a victim of tax identity theft, but also to warn people that it can happen easier than anyone might think.

Tax identity theft has been the most common form of identity theft reported to the Federal Trade Commission for the past five years.

“You feel vulnerable,” Thompson shared. “You feel like there’s so much out there that could be taken or potentially used. “

Thompson is now facing what identity theft has done to his life after hearing from the IRS.

“I received a text message letting me know, or alerting me, that the IRS had accepted my 2021 tax return,” Thompson explained. “I received a similar text message this time saying that the state had accepted my return.”

Thompson had talked to H&R Block about coming in to file his taxes again this year after receiving a text message from them to verify his upcoming appointment. He could not remember making an appointment, but let the preparer know he would make an appointment soon.

He never got the chance. Someone else had already made an appointment and appeared in person to file taxes in his name.

“Every bit of my information was used except for the bank where the money is going to be deposited, and of course, my income,” expressed Thompson with disgust.

The thief used real data they needed from Thompson blended with fake data. This is known as synthetic identity fraud.

Luttrell said protecting yourself calls for attention and knowledge. She shared these tips:

  • Monitor your credit reports.
  • Freeze your credit so that no one can open credit lines using your social security number.
  • Make sure you also file early.

Do not be a straggler, because fraudsters will often file early.

“It is a painful process to go through to get it cleaned up,” exclaimed Lutrell.

Luttrell shared people should go to a reputable company to do your taxes if you do not do them yourself.

She expects H&R Block will find the underlying cause of what happened to Thompson, but he’s anxious about how long that process will take.

Consumers surveyed by IDology, (part of GBG Americas) gave these as the top five losses due to identity theft:

  • Credit and debit card theft: 30%
  • Bank account infiltration and theft: 29%
  • Mobile phone number stolen and cloned: 24%
  • A new loan taken out in their name: 21%
  • A new credit or bank account opened in their name: 20%

For a more in-depth look, click or tap here for the Consumer Study on Finance Impact of Identity Fraud.

WAVE — Louisville and Southern Indiana's NBC affiliate. Follow us on Twitter & Instagram...
WAVE — Louisville and Southern Indiana's NBC affiliate. Follow us on Twitter & Instagram @wave3news.(WAVE)

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