The hustle goes like this: Thieves file returns using stolen Social Security numbers in order to obtain billions in tax refunds. Victims often don’t realize a return was filed in their name until their own return is rejected by the IRS, Dominguez explains. Legitimate refunds may then be delayed for up to a year while the IRS investigates the matter.
Dominguez offers these tips to avoid having your identity stolen:
- Guard your Social Security number: Don’t give it to doctors, dentists or other businesses.
- Do your taxes early: Prevent identity theft by being the first to file in your name.
- Use a legitimate tax preparer, as some have worked with thieves to prepare fraudulent returns.
Read the entire USA Today: Protect yourself as scams spring up during tax season
Read related article by Lu-Ann Dominguez: Identity theft thrives during tax season; how to avoid becoming a victim