LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – April is Financial Literacy Month and April 18 is the 2022 filing deadline for most taxpayers.
The number of stolen identities increases every year, along with the money and peace of mind also stolen from its victims. Learning what it takes to protect yourself against identity theft and the chaos it brings can take some time and knowledge, but the payoff is well worth it.
Tax identity theft can extend to almost any area of personal and financial life.
GBG Americas, a leader in identity verification and fraud prevention, found that people were worried not only about their money, but also about theft and identity damage.
“Our research shows that 85% of Americans are deeply concerned about cybersecurity, but sadly only about half know how to protect themselves,” said Christina Luttrell, CEO of GBG Americas.
To be protected against any kind of identity theft, people need to be more than concerned. They must be vigilant.
The sooner someone discovers they are a victim of identity theft, the sooner they can take steps to minimize the damage.
“I think we can all assume that our data is for sale on the dark web,” Lutrell proclaimed.
WAVE News viewer Antonio Thompson reached out, not only for information on what to do if you are a victim of tax identity theft, but also to warn people that it can happen more easily than you think.
Tax identity theft is the most common form of identity theft reported to the Federal Trade Commission in the past five years.
“You feel vulnerable,” Thompson shared. “You feel like there’s so much that could be taken or potentially used.”
Thompson is now faced with what identity theft has done to her life after hearing from the IRS.
“I received a text message notifying or alerting me that the IRS had accepted my 2021 tax return,” Thompson explained. “I received a similar text message this time saying the state had accepted my return.”
Thompson had spoken to H&R Block about coming to file her taxes again this year after receiving a text from them to verify her next appointment. He didn’t remember making an appointment, but let the picker know he would be making an appointment soon.
He never has a chance. Someone else had already made an appointment and showed up in person to file their taxes on her behalf.
“All of my information was used, except for the bank where the money is going to be deposited and, of course, my earnings,” Thompson said in disgust.
The thief used real data he needed from Thompson, mixed with fake data. This is called synthetic spoofing.
Luttrell said protecting yourself takes mindfulness and knowledge. She shared these tips:
- Monitor your credit reports.
- Freeze your credit so no one can open lines of credit using your social security number.
- Also be sure to file early.
Don’t be a latecomer, as fraudsters will often file their returns early.
“It’s a painful process to go through to clean it up,” exclaimed Lutrell.
People shared by Luttrell should go to a reputable company to do their taxes if you don’t do them yourself.
She expects H&R Block to find the underlying cause of what happened to Thompson, but he’s worried about how long that process will take.
Consumers surveyed by IDology (part of GBG Americas) cited these top five losses from identity theft:
- Credit and debit card theft: 30%
- Bank account infiltration and theft: 29%
- Stolen and cloned mobile phone number: 24%
- A new loan taken out in his name: 21%
- A new credit or bank account opened in his name: 20%
For a closer look, click or tap here for the consumer study on the financial impact of identity fraud.
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