Scammers Stealing Refund Money From QCA Taxpayers - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Scammers Stealing Refund Money From QCA Taxpayers

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The deadline is midnight tonight if you owe taxes, but filing taxes has been a lot more difficult for some tax payers this year. 

Taxpayers are falling victim to tax payer identity fraud. This year it's the worst it's ever been and local tax preparers said several of their clients are losing their tax refunds to scammers. 

"Joe filed his tax return and boom, it came back and they wouldn't give Joe his refund because somebody had used his social security number," said Rick Oelerich of Oelerich & Associates Public Accounting Firm.

That's one of a dozen clients Oelerich said has fallen victim to tax payer identity fraud. Thieves take your social security number and file a false tax return. 

Then the IRS unknowingly sends your refund money to the scammer. 

"We had a client that took 2 and a half years to get the IRS to accept their return and process their refund," said Oelerich.

All because of identity theft. After falling victim it becomes difficult to get your tax paperwork to go through.

"You file a tax return, the IRS refuses it," said Oelerich. "You file a paper tax return to try and fix that process, the IRS doesn't know if you're the bad guy or the good guy."

Oelerich said they may never know how his clients identity got stolen, but there are steps to keep yourself safe. 

"The person who files first wins and again, it could happen to you tomorrow," said Oelerich.

File early, most fraud happens early during tax season. 

Another expert said never to save personal information or credit card numbers on websites. 

"I think it's a mindset and that mindset is to be skeptical, no matter what you're doing," said CEO of Consumer Credit Nationwide Brian DeLaney. "If you're at a site that flashes the whole number up there, be suspicious because they aren't using the latest trends in protecting your identity."

The IRS is also warning tax payers about another way you can get your money stolen. It's a phone scam that says you owe money to the IRS.

Some tips to keep in mind:
     - The IRS will never ask you for pin numbers or passwords to access credit card or bank accounts. 
     - The scammer may know the last four-digits of your social security number and may threaten you will jail time or license suspension
     - After they hang up, they'll call back pretending to be a local police department or DMV, with a caller ID that matches their claim.

If you think you've been a victim and you're unsure if you actually do owe taxes... Click here to find more information and phone numbers to contact the IRS.


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