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Smartest 2017 Tax Move: Thwart Tax-Refund Thieves

January 19, 2017 at 5:00 AM

The deadline to file your taxes is still more than three months away, but if you are in line to receive a refund, I want you to jump on getting your taxes filed ASAP.

Each year identity thieves make a ton of money filing false returns claiming a refund in the name of someone whose identity they have stolen. All it takes is knowing an individual’s Social Security number.

The thieves strike early in the tax season. Then, when the actual person files a return weeks or months later, they are told that a return has already been filed in their name, and a refund already paid. That creates a big hassle. If this ever happens to you, you need to file an affidavit with the IRS that you were a victim of identity theft. Eventually you will get your refund. But what a pain.

The good news is that the Internal Revenue Service is getting better at catching the thieves, but it’s still a big issue. Two years ago there were 1.2 million fraudulent returns filed. Last year it was down to 800,000. That’s still a lot!

The best way to steer clear of this problem is to file your taxes as quickly as possible; the sooner you get your return filed, the better the chances that you will beat the identity thieves.

And if you habitually have a refund every year, I want you to reconsider your withholding to reduce (or eliminate) your refund. Getting no refund is the best way to steer clear of refund fraud problems.

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