Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes nationwide, and tax refund fraud caused by identity theft is a major challenge facing taxpayers. According to a Government Accountability Office report, fraudulent tax refunds were estimated at $5.2 billion for the 2013 tax filing season.
David Lastowski, CPA, a member of the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants, offers the following advice to help you guard against tax return identity theft.
What Is Tax Return ID Theft?
“Tax return identity theft occurs when a taxpayer’s name and Social Security number is used by an identity thief to fraudulently file a tax return and claim a refund,” says Lastowski, a sole practitioner in Erie, Pa.
According the Internal Revenue Service, the problem of tax return identity theft is significant. From 2011 to October 2014, the IRS identity theft project has stopped 19 million suspicious returns and protected over $63 billion in fraudulent refunds.