It’s a fear many of us have. What if you file your income taxes only to find out that someone already filed a return using your name and Social Security number? Trust me, you won’t be the first nor the last that this has happened to and it’s happening everywhere, even here in Idaho

The Idaho State Tax Commission wants you to be aware of identity theft scams happening in Idaho and what steps you should take if you ever happen to become a victim.

According to the Idaho State Tax Commission these are some of the most common scams they are seeing now:

Phone scams:

  • Phone calls from criminals impersonating tax officials who say they’re looking at your tax return but need you to give them your Social Security number and click on a website.
  • Criminals may also call to seek other personal information or demand immediate payment, threaten arrest, criminal prosecution, account seizure, deportation, or the filing of a lien against your property.

When in doubt about a caller, hang up and call the organization the caller claimed to be representing for confirmation and NEVER EVER give out your Social Security number to someone who has called or emailed you. The IRS and Idaho State Tax Commission will never call you asking for your Social Security Number

“Phishing and Spoofing” emails:

  • Individuals: These emails look official but are actually fake emails that often go to fake websites, designed to steal personal information. Criminals pose as your bank, your credit card company, your tax software provider, your company executives – and even the IRS.
  • Organizations: Some cybercriminals use spoofing emails that look like internal emails sent from an organization executive requesting copies of some or all employee W-2s. If this information is provided, the criminals then file fraudulent tax returns for refunds. If you come across this type of email at your work, don’t respond by email, instead you should connect with the requester by phone or face-to-face to confirm if the request is a real request or not

So far this year, the Tax Commission has saved nearly $300,000 of Idaho refunds from getting into the hands of criminals. The agency, in some cases is even sending letters asking some taxpayers to verify their identity and that they filed a return before it issues a refund.
Some things to watch for that may be a warning that you may be a victim of identity theft if:

  • Your attempt to e-file your tax return is rejected.
  • You receive a letter about a tax return you haven’t filed yet.
  • Someone calls or emails you pretending to be the IRS.
  • You are notified by an employer or vendor that your personal information was part of a data breach.

“We’re hearing about more and more data breaches every day. This means that the odds are increasing that someone will use your identity at some point,” said Tawnya Eldredge, the Tax Commission’s identity theft victim assistance coordinator.

“Be alert for anything unusual, and if you become aware that someone has used your personal information, call the Tax Commission. They can help clear up your tax issues so you can get your refund, and get you started onto what you should do next

If you discover that you’re an identity theft victim, here’s what you should do according to the Idaho State Tax Commission:

  • Visit the Tax Commission’s “Identity Theft” webpage, and then call us so we can help you protect yourself from further harm. Also notify the IRS.
  • File a police report with your local law enforcement.
  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and keep a copy for your records.
  • Check your credit through and request a fraud alert on your account.
  • Keep monitoring your personal accounts (bank, credit, etc.), and stay alert for attempts to use your identity. Victims are more likely to be preyed upon repeatedly.

To report suspected tax fraud from identity theft, call the Tax Commission at (208) 334-7660 in the Boise area or toll-free at (800) 972-7660.

Or you can just do like I do…make sure you always owe the IRS and Idaho Tax Commission, so that any refund is automatically credited back to your account instead of it going to some unscrupulous criminal who has stolen your identity and tax refund.  I may never get a refund, and pay some extra fees and penalties, but I don’t have to worry about losing my money to some other loser…