It’s been an interesting few days, as I learned that someone filed a fraudulent tax return in my name. The scam, which I’ve read will affect 3 million U.S. citizens and cost $50 billion this year is the following:
- Anyone can file a fraudulent tax return if they have your name, Social Security number, and date of birth
- They can make up everything else and can quickly get a “refund” paid to them via an anonymous debit card. This is because the IRS wants to make sure that those who don’t have an address or are unbanked can receive a refund. So, with just three pieces of data, thieves can get paid
The good news from all this is there’s a standard protocol to follow, as so many people have been affected. You call your financial institutions, file forms with the IRS, and ask the credit agencies to put a freeze on your credit reports.
The bad news is that I think this is the result of our data being “out there.” All of our doctor’s offices have our Social Security numbers and dates of birth. Since I electronically filed my returns in the past, I read with dread that the TurboTax servers have been hacked.
When I spoke to a customer rep for my bank, she said she has been getting so many calls this past week from people with the same situation. The IRS rep told me that many people who file electronically have been affected.
It is what it is.
Going forward, I won’t be electronically filing my returns. And, I won’t be writing down my Social Security number at doctor’s offices.