Warning: Everyone, including you, is at risk of tax return fraud
BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) -- Prepare yourself: if you've ever used a credit card or given personal information in paperwork, the Idaho State Tax Commission has a warning for you. The commission says almost everyone is at risk of tax return fraud.
"A lot of us, our information is already in a number of databases we may not even be aware of," said Tawnya Eldredge, tax identity fraud expert with the Idaho State Tax Commission.
With security breaches happening more and more, Eldredge says she is seeing an increase in forged tax returns.
According to the Eldredge, in 2011, the State Tax Commission worked with just five victims of tax return fraud, who went to file their taxes and found out someone had already done it. But by 2013, that number ballooned to 170. And the commission says it's already seen about 60 victims in Idaho so far this season.
Eldredge says all someone needs to commit the fraud is your personal information and a computer with internet access. Thieves can file your tax return online without even knowing where you work. Eldredge says sometimes, they get away with making fake W-2s.
"We have a lot of big companies out there," Eldredge told KBOI. "Big companies with lots of employees, so if they get hold of enough information to copycat that company...you may never have worked for that company, or any company even in that industry, but, they file a tax return so that they can get that through with whatever information that they have put together to make it look legitimate."
Eldredge says these people file return after return, and if even just a few come through, the profit is worth their while.
And if yours is one they get away with, you're in for some trouble trying to fix it. The IRS will still work to get your return to you, but it's a long process with a lot of work on your end.
Eldredge says there is no way to assure your identity won't be stolen. But you can still prevent a big tax season headache by monitoring your credit card and bank accounts. Eldredge says catching suspicious activity there is much easier than finding out after someone has already filed your taxes.