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ND Tax Refunds Pushed Back Due to Fraud Prevention

Tax returns in North Dakota will be pushed back due to "additional preventative measures." (iStockphoto)
Tax returns in North Dakota will be pushed back due to "additional preventative measures." (iStockphoto)
January 18, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. - Tax refunds in North Dakota will be coming out a little slower this year. That's because the state Tax Commissioner's office is upgrading "preventative measures" to combat tax fraud. North Dakota Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger didn't give specific details over fears of tipping off potential scammers, but he did say the new, stricter security means it'll take a few days longer to process refunds.

"We're going through checking, making sure that who's actually filing for a refund is actually who they say they are," says Rauschenberger. "So, this is all about detecting and preventing tax fraud."

During last year's tax season the commissioner's office says it flagged more than 900 suspicious returns, which ended up saving the state more than a million dollars in wrongful payments.

The U.S. Treasury Inspector General estimates that IRS fraud payments could hit $21 billion by the upcoming tax season. Dan Hendrickson, spokesman with the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota, says the most common types of tax fraud can happen without the victim knowing it.

"All scammers need, really, is your Social Security number, your birth date and your address," says Hendrickson. "Conceivably, they could file a tax return in your name and claim any refund that's due to you."

Before filing a tax return, Hendrickson says people can take simple steps to protect their information. He says guard your Social Security number like you would cash. Hendrickson agrees with the Tax Commissioner that filing early and electronically are the safest ways to avoid being scammed. But Hendrickson says you still need to be smart about it.

"You want to make sure your home computer has anti-virus software, a secure firewall," says Hendrickson. "You maybe wouldn't want to do this at a library or other places like that where maybe your information could be shared with others or accessed by others."

North Dakota will start accepting both electronic and paper returns on Tuesday.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - ND