A Bellevue resident discovered that someone fraudulently filed her tax return and received a $34,000 refund, according to this frightening article in the Seattle P-I. The woman told cops that she called the Internal Revenue Service and learned the refund was sent to a California address. It was unclear whether someone used her Social Security number alone or whether a tax return was filed in her name.
The article also says that federal authorities have recently prosecuted several cases of tax fraud in which identity thieves used Social Security numbers to file fraudulent returns. In some cases, unscrupulous tax preparers doctored their clients' returns to get extra money back for themselves, according to the IRS Web site.
Always safeguard your personal information. If you file your return by mail, send it from a locked mailbox or take it to the post office. If you file online, choose a company you know. The IRS doesn’t offer software or direct filing, but it provides a list of approved companies at www.irs.gov/efile. Conducting random searches for software providers can be dangerous, since cons frequently set up copycat Web sites to fool you info providing personal information.
If you choose to hire a professional to prepare your taxes, do some research to ensure the person is reputable and able to meet your needs. Click here for tips to help you select a tax professional.