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ST. LOUIS NEWS TODAY -

Tax Fraud Identity Theft Alert Issued for 2016 Filing
ST. LOUIS, MO, (SLFP.com), February 2, 2017 - Attorney General Josh Hawley warns consumers to be alert for tax fraud identity theft as the 2016 tax filing season begins.

"Tax identity theft fraud has become all too common. Consumers should file their returns as early as they can," Hawley advised. "Missouri consumers who experience tax fraud identity theft can reach out to my Office for help."

Tax identity theft occurs when an identity thief uses a taxpayer's stolen identity to file a fraudulent return. In doing so, the fraudster often claims a tax refund in the consumer's name. The identity thief often files a return using a stolen Social Security number and other consumer information to file that forged return. When this happens, the IRS or Missouri Department of Revenue (DOR) may have to reject the real return filed by the victim because a return had already been filed using the victim's credentials. In other scams, some tax thieves use children's identities to fraudulently claim them as dependents on a return.

Sometimes, too, scammers will take over an online tax preparation software account which had been opened by the victim. If a scammer hacks an online electronic tax filing account that was created by the consumer, the hacker can redirect the refund to the thief's bank account. Scammers may even create an electronic filing account with a tax preparation company in order to file the false return.

Although most workers receive their W-2 forms from their employers by the end of January, many consumers wait to file returns. A scammer who has access to your personal information can take advantage of that delay to file in your name. Because the IRS tries to process refunds quickly, the scammers receive their fraudulent refunds electronically or in the mail before you file.

Related scams include fake telephone calls in which the caller claims to be from IRS and demands a payment over the telephone for tax obligations which are not real. Consumers should call the IRS or DOR before providing confidential information or payment information on the telephone.

Phishing occurs when a criminal sends a fake email into a business or organization that asks for W-2s or tax information of employees. Companies should train their employees not to send tables of W-2 information or other tax information to anyone, even someone within the organization, without verbal confirmation that the email request for the information was real, according to Hawley.

How can I know if I am a victim?

Be alert to possible tax fraud identity theft if you receive a notice or letter that states:

More than one tax return was filed using your Social Security number
You owe additional tax or there is a tax refund offset
Collection actions are taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return or did not owe money
IRS or DOR records indicate you received wages from an employer unknown to you
The IRS or DOR questions your claim information pertaining to your dependents When using electronic filing software, you are unable to process your return.

Consumer tips and information:

File as early as you are able.
Use only reputable electronic filing programs from respected vendors or tax return preparers.
The IRS doesn't start contact with a taxpayer by sending an email, text, or social media message. They will not ask for personal or financial information in this way. If you get an email that claims to be from the IRS, do not reply or click on any links. Instead, forward it to phishing@irs.gov. If you receive an email or text that claims to be from DOR, do not reply or click on any links. Instead, contact idtheft@dor.mo.gov.

If you think someone used your Social Security number for a tax refund or a job, contact the IRS or DOR immediately.

If the IRS or DOR sends you a notice about a problem, contact the IRS or DOR immediately.

If you suspect a tax return preparer filed a return or altered your return without your consent or you are seeking a change to your account, file a form with the IRS or contact DOR. The IRS will ask you to complete Form 14157 and Form 14157-A and mail it to the address shown in the Instructions.

If you suspect that someone has taken over your electronic filing software account, please notify the Attorney General's Office at ago.mo.gov.

If your Social Security number is compromised and you suspect you are a victim of tax fraud identity theft, take these additional steps:

For federal fraud, complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit. Use a fillable form at IRS.gov, print, then mail or fax according to the instructions. You will be asked to send proof of your identity with your form.

For Missouri tax fraud, report the incident to the Missouri Department of Revenue by completing Form 5593PDF Document, and then send a scanned copy of the form and required documents to the DOR at idtheft@dor.mo.gov. You may fax or mail the forms instead.

File a police report with your local police department online or in person. You will need a copy of the FTC Identity Theft Affidavit, proof of the theft, a valid ID, proof of address, and the FTC's Memo to Law Enforcement. File a consumer complaint with the Office of the Missouri Attorney General at ago.mo.gov and with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.

Continue to pay your taxes and file your tax return, even if you must do so by paper.

Place a fraud alert with the three major credit reporting agencies. Consider placing a credit freeze. For more information, call 1-800-392-8222 or click here to learn more.

More information concerning identity theft and tax fraud identity theft is available online and a booklet for identity theft victims is also available.


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