ID Theft During Tax Season | VideoRetha Colclasure | 4/12/2012
Instead of a help, it`s a headache.
Identity theft is on the rise across the nation, and more North Dakotans are falling victim.
"We know it`s beginning to burdgeon and we are seeing an increase," said Parrell Grossman with the Consumer Protection Division.
Some North Dakotans are finding out their identity has been stolen when they file their tax return.
"The identity theft has already occurred. The thief is using the filing of a tax return to get a refund back," said Tax Commissioner Cory Fong.
It`s hard to say exactly how many North Dakotans have found that someone has filed a fraudulent claim using their social security number, because some thefts are reported to local police departments, others to the Attorney General`s office.
Officials think the number is only in the dozens out of about 380,000 filings statewide.
"We ask the taxpayer to report it to the Attorney General`s office. We also ask them to report it to the IRS, and we need that fraud report that they file with the IRS as a way we kind of make sure that we can release and process the real return," Fong said.
He says there are systems in place at the Tax Department to flag a possibly fraudulent claim. He doesn`t think North Dakota has sent out tax refunds to those who don`t deserve them.
Nationwide, it can be costly both to states and to the IRS.
"I`ve certainly talked to some of my colleagues. We`ve met, and this is definitely an issue we`re concerned about," Fong said.
The best way for taxpayers to protect themselves is by following routine identity theft prevention measures and being extra careful with their returns.
"We need to be careful when and how we file. Don`t use a public Wi-Fi," Grossman said.
Most of the fraudulent claims are filed early in tax season, before the real taxpayer gets around to filing one. Filing returns early in the season is one way to protect yourself from being a victim.
Fong says E-Filing is a safe, secure way to file your taxes that may help identify ID theft victims faster.