Tax Return Identity Theft A Growing Problem

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After weeks of waiting and checking the mail box, finally an envelope from the IRS that should have your refund. But when you open it, it's a letter saying someone else filed under your name and got the money. This type of identity theft is happening more and more in Mid-Michigan.

"It's pretty random when these things happen all age groups all different backgrounds and all different incomes and filing status," said Lieutenant Greg Frenger with the Meridian Township Police Department.

Police in Meridian Township are seeing a jump in the number of calls they're getting about tax fraud. Since February they've responded to 48 reports.

"The recent identify theft reports we have involve tax filings so the person has met the April federal income tax filing deadline and then they receive a notice some weeks later," Frenger explained.

People are finding out about this identity theft when they get a letter from the IRS saying two tax returns have been filed under their name and social security number

Filing an identity theft report with the local police is only the first step, starting the process of trying to prove to the federal government that someone fraudulently used your personal information.

"Once they prove that then it will be properly adjusted, but it can be difficult to prove," said Amy Lothamer, Vice President of Lothamer Tax Resolution.

It's a growing problem that Lothamer says can affect the money you get back from the IRS.

"It will delay your refund if there is a fraudulent tax return filed in your name," she added.

Lothamer says the best way to protect yourself is being vigilent when it comes to your personal information

"You definitely don't want to be giving your social security number or any information like that over the phone or via email," she said.

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