Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tax ID theft on the rise in Kansas

TOPEKA, KAN. – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan today reminded Kansans to be mindful of attempts to steal personal information during tax filing season.

Tax identity theft typically involves another person filing a false tax return using someone else’s Social Security Number. When that taxpayer later files his or her return, it could be rejected because records indicate he or she has already received a refund. Earlier this month, the IRS reported that during the 2013 federal fiscal year it initiated nearly 1,500 criminal investigations of tax-related identity theft. From 2011 to 2013, the IRS reported stopping 14.6 million suspicious returns.

“Identity theft is growing problem in Kansas and nationwide,” Schmidt said. “Our office has expanded our ability go after those who steal personal information and to educate consumers on ways to prevent identity theft.”

Jordan said his office is taking steps to prevent tax fraud.

“Tax fraud is a monetary and emotional burden for Kansans that we work hard to prevent,” said Jordan. “We've set up our system to make tax fraud difficult and are constantly adapting to prevent new schemes.”

Schmidt and Jordan offered the following tips to help consumers avoid identity theft:

 Only disclose Social Security Numbers when absolutely necessary, such as filing taxes or applying for a loan. Be wary of websites or retailers that request this information.

 Keep personal financial documents and past years’ tax returns in a secure location, such as a locked filing cabinet or a fire safe box.

 Protect personal computer files by installing firewalls and anti-spam/virus software. Protect online accounts using strong passwords and PIN numbers.

• Monitor credit reports for unauthorized or suspicious activity.

Victims of identity theft can file a report online with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at www.InYourCornerKansas.org.