Montanans warned about tax scammers - KXLH.com | Helena, Montana

Montanans warned about tax scammers

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 HELENA -- It's tax season which means scammers are on the loose, wanting to file taxes for you.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, tax identity theft has been the most frequent form of ID theft over the past five years.

Ed Eck, Chief of the Montana Office of Consumer Protection, said it's a crime impacting Americans across all demographics.

Eck said, "I wish I could say it's limited to a 10 percent of our population but we're all potential victims."

ID thieves routinely pose as IRS agents, requesting personal information over the phone. The scammers will then use the victim's Social Security Number to file a phony tax return, stealing refunds from taxpayers.

Eck advises dropping your returns directly at the post office. If filing electronically, utilize a protected internet connection. Don't rely on unsecure Wi-Fi hotspots. Also, shred any important documents containing Social Security Numbers.

Eck admits it can be difficult to dispute a claim where a person's been conned.

Eck said, "I'll have to be frank. In this day and age very often there's not too much all of these governmental agencies can do. You're going to be your best defender by doing these things and particularly filing early."

Tax identity theft victims usually receive a letter in the mail letting them know more than one tax return was filed in their name.

When in doubt, call the Office of Consumer Protection or the IRS crime protection unit, as your whole life story could be on the line and in the hands of someone that's not you.

Montana Office of Consumer Protection: 1-(800) 481-6896
IRS ID Theft Protection Specialist Unit: 1-(800) 908-4490

Helpful links:

FTC: www.ftc.gov/taxidtheft

IRS: www.irs.gov/identitytheft
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