What you need to know about tax scams

Published: Jan. 24, 2017 at 6:16 PM EST
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It's officially tax filing season.

That means some people will be waiting for their refunds but may not see them if thieves get to the returns first. Just one of many ways crooks are targeting you this tax season.

Identity theft is an issue that's increased exponentially over the last few years and ID theft connected to your taxes is increasing almost at the same rate. So it’s your time to stay one step ahead of the bad guys.

It's almost time for those tax professionals to burn the midnight oil as they go through return after return. Although some of the returns that the IRS and states will receive are bogus.

"The people who are out doing this aren't caring necessarily about who you are. They're looking for a social security number and a name," said Mary Jo Pitzen, a CPA from Gilmore Jasion Mahler.

Pitzen says thieves are filling bogus returns and making up numbers but getting real refunds. Some people are learning that the hard way when they try to file and find someone has already done that in their name.

"File as early as possible. If you've already filed your tax return, they can't file in your name," said Pitzen.

If that happens to you there are forms to file so you can still properly file. Lots of people will also get an ID authentication quiz. It will ask lots of personal questions, which may include your driver's license number but it is legit.

"Essentially what they're doing is any of your credit bureau information that they would have access to, they're looking to pull all of that information together to pull information from your past," said Pitzen.

More and more W2s are being sent electronically but if you don't see it soon check with your employer or the IRS. When it comes to the IRS, don’t forget they will not call you. They'll mail you something if they want to talk to you, no phone, no text, no email.

Refunds will be delayed this year for people getting the earned income tax credit or the child tax credit. So if you file and your refund is delayed, it may not be fraud, it's the state and IRS double checking their records.