Police: 3 tax-related fraud cases involving identity theft reported since Monday

 With the April 15 income tax deadline a little more than a month away, authorities are seeing an uptick in filing-related fraud cases.

At least three were reported in the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti area this past week, police said.

The perpetrators are essentially stealing people’s identities, filing their tax returns and reaping the refunds after routing the direct deposit to their bank accounts.

Two instances were reported to Ypsilanti police and one to Ann Arbor police since Monday, according to investigators.

On Monday, a report was taken by Ann Arbor police by a man who lives in the 2900 block of Braeburn Circle. The man told police he received a letter from the Internal Revenue Service about his tax return. In the letter, the IRS told the man to call his local police department and report that his identity had been stolen, Ann Arbor police said.

There was no additional information available regarding that incident, according to police.

On Tuesday, a woman who lives in the 800 block of Stanley Street in Ypsilanti told police that the IRS said they received her tax return – only the woman had not filed her taxes yet, said Detective Sgt. Thomas Eberts.

“This happens every tax season,” Eberts added. “Somehow people get ahold of their personal information.”

Another instance was reported in Ypsilanti Wednesday. A 40-year-old woman who lives in the 900 block of Monroe Street took her taxes to be done by an accountant, who was notified that the woman’s personal information had already been used to file this year.

The 40-year-old also got a piece of mail from the IRS forwarded to her from an old address that said a $100 refund – far less than what she usually would get – had already been deposited into a bank account that wasn’t hers, police said.

Local police agencies generally take the complaint and have the victims fill out a form, which they pass along to the IRS, the agency that will conduct the investigation, Eberts said.

The IRS has a pilot program in effect to deal with these types of issues. It was started in Florida in 2012 and has since spread to several other states, however Michigan is not yet on that list.

One of the main things the IRS wants the public to remember is that it does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information.

The IRS also offers these tips to prevent identity theft:

  • Don’t carry your Social Security card or any document(s) with your SSN on it.
  • Don’t give a business your SSN just because they ask. Give it only when required.
  • Protect your financial information.
  • Check your credit report every 12 months.
  • Secure personal information in your home.
  • Protect your personal computers by using firewalls, anti-spam/virus software, update security patches, and change passwords for Internet accounts.
  • Don’t give personal information over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you have initiated the contact or you are sure you know who you are dealing with.

    People who think they might be at risk for this type of fraud are encouraged to contact the IRS at the Identity Protection Specialized Unit, toll-free at 1-800-908-4490. Victims will have to fill out the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit, Form 14039.

    John Counts covers crime and breaking news for The Ann Arbor News. He can be reached at johncounts@mlive.com or you can follow him on Twitter. Find all Washtenaw County crime stories here.

  • Article source: http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2014/03/3_cases_of_tax_filing.html

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