CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is warning consumers of tax-season scams, including reports of tax returns already have been filed by someone else.
“Our Consumer Protection Division has received numerous calls and written complaints from citizens who are rightly concerned that someone else has already filed taxes using their name and Social Security number,” Morrisey said in a statement. “We urge anyone who is informed by the IRS or State Tax Department that their taxes have already been filed to take immediate action by calling the agency as well as local law enforcement.”
Scammers will use common tax-preparation software to submit fake returns. According to Krebs Security website, krebsonsecurity.com, scammers will use a modest salary and average refund amount in order to not raise suspicions. They have the refunds deposited on a unique pre-paid debit card or store gift card for each fake filing made. Krebs said scammers are hitting both the IRS and state tax departments.
“Pre-paid debit cards provide the perfect cover for scammers. They cannot be easily traced or recovered once the deposit is made,” Morrisey said.
The IRS said taxpayers should be aware of these warning signs of possible identity theft:
* More than one tax return was filed using the taxpayer’s Social Security number.
* The taxpayer owes additional tax, refund offset or have had a collection action taken against him or her for a year he or she did not file taxes.
* IRS records indicate the taxpayer received wages from an employer the taxpayer hasn’t worked for in the past.
Consumers who believe they have been victims of tax-related identity theft should report the incident to the following agencies:
* Local law enforcement.
* The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 800-368-8808 or online at www.wvago.gov;
* The West Virginia Tax Department Office of Taxpayer Services at 800-982-8297 between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
* The IRS Tax Fraud Hotline at 1-800-829-0433;
* The Federal Trade Commission at www.identitytheft.gov or by calling 877-438-4338.
* One of the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion — to place a fraud alert on the consumer’s credit records.
* Your financial institutions and close any accounts that were opened without your permission or have been tampered with.
* Check your Social Security Administration earnings statement annually. Taxpayers can create an account online at www.ssa.gov.
“This scam is scary for taxpayers who, through no fault of their own, have their identities stolen by cybercriminals,” Morrisey said. “But it’s also important for citizens to remember that if there is a problem with their taxes, neither the state tax department nor the IRS will ever initiate contact with taxpayers by telephone, email, or text and ask them for personal or financial information.
"Consumers should report any tax impersonation scams immediately.”