Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Help Me Howard: Stolen IRS
Are you waiting on your tax refund? Hope you get it? I say that because some people filing their taxes are getting a rude awakening. Someone else has already filed and gotten their refund, does that mean they won't get their money? It's why one woman called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- By now your boss should have given you your W-2, allowing you to file your tax return and find out if you are getting a refund.
Terri Bryan: "$4,955."
Terri was planning on spending her refund check on a reliable car. So, the day after getting her W-2 she went online to file her return.
Terri Bryan: "Transmission did not go through."
When Terri hit the button to submit her return a warning popped up telling her the taxes could not be filed.
Terri Bryan: "Duplicate social security number. A tax return with the same social security number has already been submitted. In other words, it appears you're trying to e-file the same return twice."
Turns out someone had filed Terri's taxes two days before her company handed her the W-2 and now that crook was getting her refund check.
Terri Bryan: "It was unbelievable. There was no words. I didn't know how to react, I was just like what."
The bottom line, someone had stolen Terri's identity and obviously knew all of her confidential information.
Terri Bryan: "They know where I work, my social, my date of birth, my name, how old I am, my address."
Terri immediately contacted the IRS to report the theft.
Terri Bryan: "I asked them who did it and where it was going to and they told me they were not able to give me that information."
Terri then faced her next problem, Turbo Tax promises a refund with a week or two and Terri wanted to make sure the crook did not get her money, but the IRS couldn't guarantee that for a pretty good reason.
Terri Bryan: "They said since it was already done with my social security it's gonna go to them, there is no way to stop it because they don't know if I am telling the truth."
Terri's identity was stolen, her tax return is probably in someone else's hands. So Howard, will she lose her tax refund this year.
Howard Finkelstein: "It's scary when someone steals your identity and gets your tax refund, but you don't have to worry about that refund. The IRS suffers. They still have to issue a refund check to you, the only stipulation, you may have to wait while they investigate the theft."
When I called the IRS to see if the crook had received Terri's refund and where he or she was located they told me we can not comment or discuss the case due to disclosure laws. However, they did contact Terri to help her file her taxes, but if the crook did get her refund, it will be months before they finish their investigation and give her the $4,955 she is owed. Bottom line, the web is great for you and the crooks.
Howard Finkelstein: "In this internet age there is no such thing as privacy anymore, and while you can take some steps to protect yourself there is no foolproof way to block someone from getting your social security number, date of birth and in some cases your tax return."
With the help from the IRS Terri is getting the refund problem solved, but with the having all her confidential information she knows her problems are just beginning.
Terri Bryan: "Who's to say they won't do it again the next year and who's to say they won't try to do other things."'
And if your identity is stolen like Terri's you need protect yourself. Contact the credit bureaus and put a fraud alert on your account. You can then check your account for free to make sure someone isn't buying something or opening credit cards in your name. Also, the feds and the IRS have websites with pointers and steps to take when your identity is stolen.
Taxing situation stripped you of your identity? Wanna deduct it from your life? File with us. Our only dependance is on the lawbooks and a little common sense.
FOR MORE INFO:
Federal Identity Theft Protection