Thunder and Lightning and Dire Warnings This Tax Season

Hey, y’all.  Guess what?  Have you heard about the dire warnings about tax fraud and how it could effect you this year?  The warnings are all over the place.  It seems there are a lot of scams going on out there these days. One I heard about on the news was about scammers sending email about your tax returns–they’re phishing for information.

Another common problem is identity theft.  My husband and I got our own taste of that this year.  Last week, I did our taxes and e-filed our state and federal return.  We got emails saying that our tax returns were rejected.  I looked up why on our software, and apparently somebody else used my husband’s social security number on their tax return and listed him as a spouse on that return.  There can’t be two tax returns out there with the same number, so our tax return was rejected, since ours was submitted after the fraudulent return was.

My hubby and I spent an afternoon on the telephone with the social security administration and the IRS, with no answers and a lot of wasted time.  We did find out that we didn’t need appointments to go to our local IRS office, though, so off we went the next morning.  Sure enough, our fear was confirmed.  Somebody ripped off my hubby’s identity and was using it in a fake return.

Because of this, our tax return will take at least SIX MONTHS to process.  Micah had to file an affidavit affirming that yes, he is who he says he is and yes, that social security number is his and copies of his documents and whatnot had to be turned in along with our tax return.

The really upsetting thing about this is that we were counting on our tax return to help us buy a new car, since mine has the blown head gasket.

Sigh.

Apparently with the advent of e-filing, it is really easy for people to put info down that doesn’t belong to them and list a bank account info for the tax refund to get direct deposited to.  Once the fraudsters get their money, they can skedaddle off into the wind.

I know in my own workplace two other people were effected by this exact same type of theft.   We’re talking people that I know and families of these people!  It’s not like it’s just the occasional random person.  The gentleman I talked to at the SSA said that he isn’t even the right guy to call for this problem, and he gets 5-6 calls a day for it.  Imagine how many calls the IRS are getting about it.  While we were there, we heard somebody else complaining of the same problem. The IRS agent we talked to said the problem of identity theft this year is rampant.  It’s the worst it’s ever been.

My husband has no idea how this thief got his personal info, but he or she did.  With all the hacks into large computer databases like Oregon’s DMV, not to mention credit card companies, big box stores and other such things, no doubt a lot of people’s personal info is just floating around out there, unbeknownst to us but available to unscrupulous people with the technical know-how.  I don’t know if there is anything we CAN do to protect ourselves from our information being nabbed anymore, since it’s likely already out there anyway.

Let this be a lesson to you:  if you think you will be getting a tax refund, as soon as you get your W-2’s in the mail, get your tax stuff together and e-file as quickly as possible, before the fraudsters get a chance to beat you to your own return.  No dilly dallying!

I hope the IRS gets through its investigation asap and the “six months” answer ends up being rote and we get our return much sooner.  Wouldn’t that be a lovely thing?

Good luck with your tax returns this year!

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