Refund late in Garner, NC? You may be a victim of tax fraud
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Garner, North Carolina consumers expecting income tax refunds may be left staring at their bank statements or mailboxes wondering “where's my refund?” If your government check from overpaid taxes isn’t showing up when you expected, the answer might be identity theft.
Income Tax Identity Theft Is a Growing Problem
State tax agencies have been plagued by fraud in recent years, paying out tens of millions of dollars on fraudulent income tax returns. This year, some consumers will experience delays in getting their refunds because of new measures put in place in North Carolina (and by the IRS) to fight fraud.
But if your refund is significantly delayed, it could be because it was paid out to someone else before you ever filed. Many fraudsters file tax returns with minimal information yet do maximum damage to innocent North Carolina consumers.
The federal government pays out billions each year on fraudulent returns, and this means consumers have to fight back to get their refund and may also have to contend with more extensive identity theft since tax refund fraud could be just the tip of the iceberg.
Last year, an IRS database was breached and more than 300,000 taxpayer records were stolen. Many might have been used for ongoing identity theft and tax fraud. If your tax refund is delayed, you should check with the North Carolina Department of Revenue or IRS to see if someone else has collected your refund.
How to Fight Tax Refund Fraud and Identity Theft
Garner, North Carolina consumers can protect themselves from identity theft and tax return theft by being on high alert about protecting personal information year-round but particularly during tax season. Here are some steps to take.
#1 Vet your tax preparer
Be careful about the tax preparer you use. Some tax prep companies have themselves been breached, resulting in the theft of client information. Ask about how the firm will protect your information, and also research their data breach history. If their measures are inadequate, move to another firm.
#2 Be careful if you self-prepare
Many Garner, NC consumers prepare their own taxes, but that is no guarantee against breach, theft and fraud. If you use a tax agency portal, choose a very secure password. If you use a software program, research it for security before choosing, and choose a very secure password you don’t use elsewhere.
#3 Safeguard your social security number
Shred pay stubs and any documents with your social security number and refrain from sharing your SSN. Doctor and dentist offices are bad about asking for your SSN on patient paperwork. They don’t need it – so decline to provide it. Also, don’t carry your social security card on you – keep it in a safe place.
#4 Be savvy about phishing efforts
Phishing scams are at play year-round. These emails and social media messages are designed to get you to click so that they can install computer malware to steal your personal information. You should know that tax agencies don’t ever send emails, so any emails from “tax agencies” are bogus.
#5 Avoid tax refunds to prevent losing them
Many Garner, North Carolina consumers look forward to getting a big fat refund check. But why not eliminate the refund and enjoy your money all year long? If you adjust your withholdings on your W-4, your paychecks will be bigger and there’s less to lose in case of tax return fraud.
Looking for Help with Debt? Consider Bankruptcy Solutions
If an added delay on your tax return puts a strain on your finances, and you find yourself drowning in debt in Garner, North Carolina, bankruptcy may be a fit solution for you. Contact the Law Offices of John T. Orcutt for a free Garner bankruptcy consultation. Call +1-919-646-2654 for a free no-obligation consultation at one of our locations in Raleigh, Durham, Fayetteville, Wilson, Greensboro, Garner or Wilmington.