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Consumer Warning: Identity Thieves Trolling for Your Tax Refund

PHOTO: Tax refund theft is up 60 percent over last year and is the fastest growing form of identity theft.
PHOTO: Tax refund theft is up 60 percent over last year and is the fastest growing form of identity theft.
April 5, 2013

PHOENIX – Consumer advocates warn that identity thieves are working overtime this year, trying to get people to reveal personal information by email and phone in order to steal tax refunds.

Harold Moldoff is a volunteer "Fraud Fighter" with AARP. He says most scammers work by phone and by email, and usually entice consumers with a money-making proposition.

"'We'll get you $80 in extra refund if you complete the following customer survey for the IRS,’” he says. “It's a scam! The IRS does not do that."

Moldoff says consumers should know that the IRS only makes initial contact by U.S. mail. It never uses email or phone calls for that purpose.

He says tax refund theft is up 60 percent over last year, and is the fastest growing form of identity theft.

Moldoff explains consumers can file to have the IRS correct the problem, but lots of folks are in desperate need of their refund, and the process can take awhile.

"The average refund is $3,000,” he says. “It puts people in financial distress until they finally get the money that's owed to them. That can be up to six months."

Moldoff says identity thieves have already made off with an estimated $5.2 billion in fraudulent tax refunds.

If you think you have been a victim of tax refund fraud, you should notify the IRS.


Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ