Tips to avoid fraud at tax time

MONTICELLO, Ind. (WLFI) – The deadline for 2013 tax returns is quickly approaching. While some may make it a habit of waiting until the last minute to file, Jeff Milligan of Barker Milligan CPA says identity thieves may have already done it for you.

“They’re going to file a false return with a legitimate social security number and then claim a refund. And, before the IRS can catch them, the funds have been deposited into accounts or the checks have been cut. Then, the thieves are off and on to their next adventure,” said Milligan.

Those adventures have led to a 66 percent increase in refund fraud. Milligan said the mishandling of documents is one way for thieves to get your information. He said old tax returns in particular are rich with personal data.

“[It has] your social security numbers, current address, full names [and] of course your income levels, which is sometimes used as an identity verification tool,” said Milligan.

Depending on the way taxes are filed, the IRS recommends keeping documents anywhere from three to seven years, and need to be stored somewhere secure, like a file cabinet with a lock. When you’re ready to get rid of them, shredding is the best way to ensure your identity is protected.

However, documents aren’t the only way thieves are filling on your behalf.

“If anybody is asking for personal information over the phone, I think that’s a key indicator. Whether it’s social security numbers or that, it’s a key indicator that something fishy is going on,” said Milligan.

Thieves are also using phone and email scams. Posing as the IRS, they persuade their victims to give out information. But Milligan says the IRS will never contact people through phone or email, and encourages anyone to call and ask a professional before giving out personal data.

“Don’t act up upon something without checking it out with someone else. Get some third party verification,” said Milligan.

If you think you are a victim of tax fraud theft, Milligan recommends seeking help from a professional tax service.

For more information on tax fraud, Click Here.

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