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Identity theft increases during tax season

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(KPLR) – Thousands of Americans are tax time targets for identify thieves waiting to steal your information.

Prosecutions have increased dramatically as the Internal Revenue Service works to lock up tax thieves.  But at the same taxpayers by the millions find themselves victims of tax related identity theft.

A 50% increase in identity theft complaints were tracked in 2015.  And a significant number were connected to tax refund fraud.  The IRS wants more arrests and prosecutions.   John Nunez investigates tax fraud cases. He notes improvement over the last three years.

Sadly a good number of those cases involve St. Louis area taxpayers. After being compromised last year, they like others nationwide were given personal identification numbers.  But in early January the IRS reported the system it uses to issue the pin had been hacked.  Letters are being sent to effected tax payers.  Another concern for taxpayers, Nunez warns people not to fall for the IRS impersonator scam.

And you want to be sure you work with a qualified tax preparer.  Picking the wrong one makes you vulnerable to fraud as well

If you are the victim of tax return identity theft accept the fact that you will spend a lot of time making calls, completing forms and reading emails.  You will need to contact the IRS.  The taxpayer assistance centers can help guide you.  We'll continue to track how long you'll have to wait if you are a victim of the personal identification number cyber crime.

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