If you’re in the process of getting your taxes together, you know that one of your biggest worries is the possibility of an audit. Unfortunately identity theft is another growing worry among millions of taxpayers. The number of identity theft cases has grown by 650% since 2008; there are still hundreds of thousands of unsolved cases being dealt with.
Simply put, taxpayers need to start being more careful and learn how to avoid become victims. Forbes has created a list of common ways people have fallen prey to identity thieves; here are some ways it could easily happen to you.
- By filing a paper return. In California a IRS data entry clerk stole paper returns information before it was input into the system in order to file her own fraudulent returns and collect the tax refunds.
- By using a tax preparer. One tax preparer that helped taxpayers from his own home actually used their information to file false returns years later. It doesn’t stop there though, a Jackson Hewitt office in North Carolina was broken into and the thief took off with more than 300 client files using the info to file false claims.
- By going into collections. One woman in Georgia collected information she obtained while working at a collections agency and used the info to file fraudulent returns in 2011 along with two other accomplices.
- By taking out a student loan. As a customer service rep for a student loan company, one woman decided to steal over 50 IDs and pass them on to a shoddy tax preparer.
Be sure to check your credit report every year to be aware of any possible fraudulent activity. You may also want to consider enrolling in an identity theft protection program to catch the problem before it starts. If you believe your identity is being targeted and may be used to file fraudulent returns, contact the IRS to find out how to report the problem.