Tax Commission News Release
Idaho sees continued increase in tax fraud from identity theft
BOISE, IDAHO — March 11, 2015 — Tax fraud using identity theft continues to increase in Idaho, affecting more people each year. In 2013 the Idaho State Tax Commission identified 170 victims of tax fraud. In 2014 that number quadrupled to 694. And this tax season, the majority of tax fraud cases the agency is catching are from identity theft.
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information without your permission for economic gain or benefit. 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 more than $486,000 from going to fraudsters last year.
“We’re always trying to stay a step ahead of the bad guys,” according to Doreen Warren, Revenue Operations administrator at the Tax Commission.
The Tax Commission is asking certain taxpayers who file income tax returns to provide documents to verify their identity. “This will help safeguard their tax information and prevent others from using their identity to file a false tax return,” said Warren.
And when taxpayers call, email, or visit a Tax Commission office, the agency is asking for more information—in addition to their Social Security number (SSN) or other tax identification number—to verify their identity.
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.
Warren said taxpayers can take some simple steps to help protect themselves from identity theft. They include:
- Don’t click on unknown links in suspicious emails.
- Protect your personal data by changing your PINs, usernames, and passwords regularly.
Taxpayers can also keep an eye out for signs that their identity is compromised:
- Monitor your bank and credit accounts for unusual activity.
- Check your credit report for unusual activity. You’re entitled to a free report once a year from each of the three credit agencies. You can use www.annualcreditreport.com to request a 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.