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Tips for Granite Staters to Prevent IRS “Shocker”

February 3, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. - It can be a shocker - getting a letter from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) advising you that somebody else already collected your tax refund. However, you can take steps to protect yourself.

Norma Boyce is a volunteer fraud fighter with AARP New Hampshire. She said tax identity theft again tops the IRS "dirty dozen" list of scams - and the way it works is pretty simple.

"When somebody gets hold of your Social Security number to file a fraudulent tax return, they receive refund money, so when you go to file your own return, you get a little notice that says - whoops! - somebody has already filed, using that number," Boyce said.

Steps can be taken to recover your refund money, she added, but the best course of action is preventing the scam in the first place, by never providing your Social Security number to telemarketers or sending it on emails. She said these days it's best to keep your Social Security card in a safe place and not carry it around.

If you have lost your Social Security card, or if other personal information was recently stolen, you are at risk of tax identity fraud, she warned.

"First of all, you should contact the IRS and let them know that you could be a potential victim. They will secure your tax account and be on the lookout for it," she advised.

Filing early is another way to reduce the odds of being scammed, she suggested, adding that taking steps to protect your identity now can help avoid a shocker from the IRS.

"It is a shocker, because most people don't find out that their tax identity has been compromised until they go to file their return, or until they get a letter from the IRS, which is very scary to a lot of people," she said.

Those who believe their tax ID has been compromised can call the IRS toll-free at 800-908-4490. More tips for avoiding Tax ID scams are at www.aarp.org.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH