Tax refund ID theft on the rise

KUSA – Filing your taxes before the deadline is stressful enough. Imagine the stress increase if you find out someone already filed in your name – using your social security number.

That’s what happened to a Parker man. James Austin tried to file electronically, but was rejected by the system. After several tries, he realized there was trouble and contacted the IRS.

“I grew up in a time when the IRS was a big scary monster,” Austin said. “So when I called I was afraid, you know, I didn’t know what to expect. But the [IRS] agent I talked to was extremely helpful and told me exactly what I needed to do – and was very patient with my concerns.”

“I’ve been afraid of identity theft for many years -and it finally happened to me,” Austin added.

IRS spokesperson Karen Connelly said tax refund fraud is on the rise.

“It is something that we’re trying to warn tax payers about. Just so they can protect themselves and do everything they can to keep it from happening.”

The incidents of identity thieves filing false claims for refunds by stealing and using someone else’s social security number is definitely increasing. Last year the IRS initiated nearly 1,500 investigations. That was a 66 percent increase from 2012.

Austin will get his refund, but it will take six months or more.

If you believe you are a victim of tax refund ID theft, here is what you need to do:

  • Contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490, extension 245, immediately.
  • Fill out the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit, Form 14039. Follow the directions on the back of the form that relate to your specific circumstances.
  • Report incidents of identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission at or the FTC Identity Theft hotline at 877-438-4338 or TTY 866-653-4261.
  • File a report with your local police department.
  • Contact the fraud departments of the three major credit bureaus:

Equifax – 800-525-6285
Experian – 888-397-3742
TransUnion – 800-680-7289

Close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.

More information is available at
Identity Protection Tips
Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft

Tips to protect you from becoming a victim of identity theft

  • Don’t carry your Social Security card or any documents that include your Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
  • Don’t give a business your SSN or ITIN just because they ask. Give it only when absolutely 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 and anti-spam/virus software, updating security patches and changing 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.

If your tax records are not currently affected by identity theft, but you believe you may be at risk due to a lost or stolen purse or wallet, questionable credit card activity or credit report, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490, extension 245.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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