RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – North Carolina taxpayers expecting a refund may be waiting longer than usual.
CBS 17 is digging deeper into reports that some state tax refunds are going to be delayed this year because of added security measures.
Tax season is a scammers delight.
One of the most common scams involves beating you to the electronic punch by filing a return in your name.
“They’ll steal your ID, using that information to file a return and take your money,” said cybersecurity expert Alex Hamerstone at TrustedSec.
To combat that, the North Carolina Department Of Revenue said “With the rise in identity theft, we have to take some additional time to verify the identity of taxpayers.”
NCDOR let the public know about those potential delays with a notice on its “WHERE IS MY REFUND” website saying refunds will take longer than normal – but it didn’t say how long.
When CBS 17 consumer investigator Steve Sbraccia asked for specifics on those delays he was told by spokesman Schorr Johnson, “We are currently distributing refunds faster than the times listed, but that usually slows down closer to the April 15 rush.”
After being tipped by a viewer about the security delays, Sbraccia wanted to know how the state was going about safeguarding our refunds.
He sent an email to NCDOR and the agency responded with a written explanation.
Johnson said “Because we do not want identity thieves to know how we are screening, we cannot share details”
That makes sense, because you don’t want to tip your hand when it comes to specific security procedures.
If you’re the victim of refund fraud, Schorr said the NCDOR will “Identify potentially affected taxpayers with a letter and provide a dedicated telephone number to call for assistance.”
However, the agency said if you get a letter like that you have call them.
They will not call you.
One of the ways identity thieves get your personal information is through data breaches, so the NCDOR said it now “tracks company data breaches.”
Schorr said NCDOR uses “The information to help protect the tax information of affected employees who work at the companies that have had data breaches.”
For us, all this extra security is the price we pay for living in a cyber-connected world.
The Government Accountability Office says tax return fraud costs us $6 billion annually.
“These scammers are relentlessly trying to separate us from our hard-earned money,” said Hamerstone.