Tax Commission News Release
Idaho sees increase in tax fraud from identity theft
BOISE, IDAHO — March 10, 2014 — Tax fraud using identity theft is on the rise in Idaho, affecting more people each year. In 2011 the Idaho State Tax Commission worked with five victims of fraud from identity theft. In just two years, that number grew to 170.
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information without your permission to commit fraud. In most cases confirmed at the Tax Commission, the identity thief used someone else’s Social Security number to fraudulently file a tax return and claim a refund.
The Tax Commission uses automated reviews to help catch returns with tax fraud and identity theft. These reviews prevented $78,000 from going to fraudsters last year.
“We’re trying to stay one step ahead of the bad guys,” according to Tawnya Eldredge, the Tax Commission’s identity theft expert.
But many taxpayers aren’t aware they’re victims of identity theft until they file their taxes and are told their Social Security number has already been used to file a return. At that point, any refund requests are put on hold until the Tax Commission can validate that it has the correct taxpayer.
That’s where Eldredge comes in. “My job is to help identity theft victims resolve their tax issues with the state and find a safe way to file their taxes in the future,” she said. Eldredge also provides them with a list of actions to take to minimize their risks and encourages the victims to report the crime to the police and the Federal Trade Commission, which tracks identity theft cases.
Eldredge expects to see an increase in identity theft cases for 2014. She says taxpayers can take some simple steps to stay on top of identity theft. They include:
- File your taxes early before potential thieves can use your tax number.
- Monitor your bank and credit accounts for unusual activity.
- Check your credit report for unusual activity. Taxpayers are entitled to a free report once a year from each of the three credit agencies. Eldredge recommends they use www.annualcreditreport.com to request their free copy.
For more information about identity theft and tax fraud, visit the Tax Commission’s Identity Theft Web page at tax.idaho.gov. To report suspected tax fraud from identity theft, call the Tax Commission at 334-7660 in the Boise area or toll free at (800) 972-7660.