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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > February 2015 > Avoid Tax-Related Identity Theft

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Avoid Tax-Related Identity Theft

Imagine filing your taxes only to learn that someone stole your identity, filed your tax return, and received a refund in your name. Unfortunately, this scenario may be a reality for many consumers this tax season.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, “tax-related identity theft was the most common form of identity theft in 2014; the number of complaints from consumers about criminals impersonating Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officials was nearly 24 times more than in 2013.”
In an effort to protect Ohioans from tax-related identity theft, Attorney General DeWine offers the following tips:   
  • File your taxes as soon as possible. The sooner you file, the less chance someone has to fraudulently file on your behalf.
  • Be on the lookout for tax-related mail. While you should have received all of your tax-related documents by now, are you sure that you’ve received everything? In the future, be sure to keep track of your mail around the time that W-2 forms are distributed to ensure that your W-2 (or any other tax-related document) has not been taken out of your mailbox. You may want to have your W-2 provided to you electronically if your employer allows that option. If you have not yet received a tax-related document, call the employer or company responsible for issuing that document to see if it was sent. 
  • Do your homework. Find a legitimate tax preparer in your area by searching the IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications. The directory contains only professionals who hold appropriate credentials, such as an Annual Filing Season Program Record of Completion from the IRS or a Preparer Tax Identification Number.
  • Check the reputation of the business. If you plan to use a tax preparation service, research the reputation of the business by contacting the Ohio Attorney General and the Better Business Bureau. If you choose to use a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), check to make sure that person is licensed with the Accountancy Board of Ohio.
  • Ask questions and never sign blank documents. Review your tax return thoroughly before signing or filing anything with the IRS. In some cases, fraudsters pose as legitimate tax preparers in order to obtain your personal information — and possibly your refund. They may use your personal information to route your refund into their personal bank account. Beware of “tax preparers” who suggest issuing your refund on a prepaid credit card. Once your refund is loaded on the card, the “preparer” could use the card number to steal your refund.
  • Beware of “IRS” imposter scams. Scammers may call and pose as “IRS representatives,” claiming that you must first verify personal information, such as your Social Security number, before receiving a refund check. Know that legitimate government agencies will never contact you unexpectedly and request personal information. Hang up immediately and call the IRS using a number that you know to be legitimate to report the call.
Consumers who are the victims of tax-related identity theft should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Identity Theft Unit at 800-282-0515 or, the Ohio Department of Taxation at, or the IRS at or through the IRS Tax Fraud Hotline at 800-829-0433.