Thieves will stop at nothing to get your tax return and in some cases even file a return using children’s social security numbers.
“Someone stole the disabled child’s identity and filed on behalf of the child alone and it went through,” H&R Block’s Karen Tsalakos said.
The IRS told NBC2 scammers aren’t just operating on the dark web, but they’re operating right in our backyards.
Scammers could be putting up storefronts to look like reputable tax filers.
The No. 1 piece of advice from the IRS is to file early.
Monday was the first day the IRS began accepting returns.
The faster you file, the less likely scammers will get your return in before you.
But this year, watch out for fraudulent tax preparers.
“They almost got $4,000 back on a tax return that shouldn’t have gotten money back,” Ricki Snyder, a Fort Myers resident, said.
Snyder and Robin Hall are both familiar with someone trying to steal their family’s tax returns.
Hall worked with the IRS to prove thieves got her son’s tax return.
“I’ve sent birth certificates. I’ve sent licenses and social security cards,” Hall said.
Special IRS agent Mary Hammond told NBC2 there is a huge need to protect your privacy during tax season.
“Identity theft is such a big issue particularly in the state of Florida that you want to file early,” Hammond said.
She notes that is the message the IRS is sending this year.
Thieves no longer are hiding on the dark web but inside brick and mortar shops.
“They’ve altered a return after they’ve provided a copy to a taxpayer by adding their own bank account information and then siphoning a portion of the refund,” Hammond said.
Tsalakos has been filing returns with H&R Block for 15 years.
“We know so much and that needs to be protected, credentialed and locked up, shredded, destroyed and properly handled,” Tsalakos said.
Sensitive information in the wrong hands can be dangerous.
The IRS is also warning that the IRS impersonation scheme is picking up again.
The scheme entails someone calling and pretending to be an IRS agent, saying they owe you money.
The IRS’s advice is to hang up the phone.
The IRS only calls after establishing contact by mail after several letters.
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