(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today warned Ohioans of an increased number of tax-related identity theft complaints recently received by the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Section Identity Theft Unit.
"Of all the tax-related identity theft complaints my office has on file, more than half of the complaints were made in March, and we still have a few days to go," said Attorney General DeWine. "With the tax filing deadline just a few weeks away, it is important for consumers to be aware of these tax-related identity theft issues and how to prevent them."
Tax-refund fraud can occur when an identity thief obtains a taxpayer's social security number and files for, and receives, the taxpayer's refund. It can also occur when people entrust their personal information to fraudulent tax preparers.
Employment-earnings tax fraud can occur when an identity thief uses someone else's social security number to get a job, and the employer reports the thief's income to the IRS. When the legitimate taxpayer files a tax return and does not include the thief's earnings, IRS records will show that the taxpayer failed to fully report their income.
To avoid identity theft and tax return fraud:
• File your taxes as soon as possible.
• When filing online, make sure that the website is secure (the address should begin with "https").
• Avoid using "tax preparers" who promise significantly higher refunds than other organizations.
• Ensure that the tax preparer holds the appropriate credentials to review your taxes.
• Check the tax preparer's reputation with the Ohio Attorney General and Better Business Bureau.
• Never sign a blank tax form.
• Ask questions and review your tax return thoroughly before signing and filing anything with the IRS.
• Check your mail frequently; thieves may steal tax-related documents and personal information from mailboxes.
The Ohio Attorney General's Consumer Protection Section has created an Identity Theft Unit to help victims rectify the effects of identity theft. The unit currently offers two programs for victims: traditional assistance and self-help assistance.
Consumers who believe they are a victim of identity theft should file a notification with the Ohio Attorney General's Identity Theft Unit at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or 800-282-0515.
Lisa Hackley: 614-466-3840
Jill Del Greco: 614-466-3840