Some Clackamas County and surrounding area citizens reporting identity theft …

With tax day around the corner, some Clackamas County and neighboring
residents who were hoping for a fat return got bad news and a headache instead.

Several police departments are reporting citizens have had
their Social Security numbers stolen in the months leading up to the
April 15 tax deadline.

“This is a form of identity theft,” said Officer Ulli Neitch, Milwaukie Police Department spokeswoman. “Our understanding from the (Internal Revenue
Service) is that this… is a national problem right now.”

Neitch explained other people are illegally using citizens’ Social Security numbers to intercept their tax refunds.

The Milwaukie, West Linn and Lake Oswego police departments
and the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office all have reported similar incidents. One Milwaukie woman, Camella Collins,
said both her and her husband’s Social Security numbers were taken.

Milwaukie resident Lydia Dietz, 58, completed her taxes “the
old-fashioned away — snail mail.”  She found out about the identity theft the same way.

“I got a letter in about four weeks of sending my federal
(tax return) in, and it was saying they were going to check and hold up my
taxes because they wanted to check my records,” Dietz said. “What threw me for
a loop was there was another person’s name in the letter.”

When Dietz called the IRS, she said a woman told her she’d
been a victim of identity theft.

“It scared me,” Dietz said. “It’s one of those things you feel
like it’s not going to happen to you. You’re just nobody, an average person
(then) all of a sudden you get this letter.”

Dietz said she spent four hours notifying various agencies
of the theft: the IRS, the Federal Trade Commission, U.S. Attorney’s Office and
her local police department — all critical to do for someone whose identity has been stolen identity.

Citizens concerned about whether they’re the victim of
identity theft can check one of the three major U.S. credit bureaus, which can
be done free of charge

“Everyone should be checking their credit report at least
once a year,” said Sgt. Neil Hennelly, spokesman for the West Linn Police Department.

Other resources:

–Byron Wilkes

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