Police warning: File tax returns ASAP

Southborough Police are trying to prevent a repeat of the frauds perpetuated against residents last year.

According to the department, 16 residents reported being victims of identity thieves who filed false tax returns in 2015. To avoid being victimized, residents are urged to file returns as soon as they can.

Unfortunately, it usually takes much longer to file a legitimate return than a false one. After all, you could still be waiting on a W-2 form (or other necessary paperwork) while criminals have already filled out a bogus one. (Back in 2014, 60 Minutes broadcast a disturbing report on the issue. You can take a look at that here.)

Still, it’s a good reminder that once you have what you need, there’s a reason not to procrastinate until April!

Here’s the Facebook post by the SPD: 

SPD Crime Prevention Tip Regarding Your Tax Returns:

We strongly recommend that you file your tax returns as soon as possible. Why? Because the longer you take to file your returns, the more time it gives an Identity Thief to file a fraudulent tax return on your behalf by using your stolen information. Nationwide, billions of dollars have been lost to identity thieves who have filed phony tax returns. Just last year, sixteen (16) Southborough residents reported being the victims of a fraudulent tax return.

We hope that you will take the time to get your taxes done as soon as possible, in order to avoid this costly crime!

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8 years ago

I was one of the 16.
Trust me… you do not want this to happen to you.

8 years ago

I was also one of the 16, and it was a terrible experience. The people running these scams are not the brightest, or skilled, by any means, but they are able to pull off these simple scams over and over again. The IRS seems helpless to stop it.

What I learned is that the IRS expects the problem to get much worse…they obviously can’t figure out how to stop it….so filing early is a good idea….before the fraudster files for you, costs you dozens of hours filling out forms and filing police reports, takes up police time and effort, and rips off the treasury.

8 years ago

We were also one of the 16. It is not fun!! our official return/refund didn’t get processed by the IRS until almost Sept. As soon as we have everything it’s always straight to the Accountant. Try to get some of you figures from your online accounts while you wait for the mailings.

8 years ago

I usually owe money to both state and federal. If a fraudulent return is filed with my information I presume the perpetrators are trying to get a refund? That should raise some red flags at the IRS if all of a sudden for example I go from owing $4000 one year to getting $1500 refund the next? Also how do they get away with a false W-2 when my employer files the W-2 with the IRS as well; that would mean the IRS has 2 different W-2’s for the same person? I’m just not sure how this is working to the benefit for the theives.
I guess if they get it in before you file then that creates massive problems when the legit return is filed.

8 years ago
Reply to  JPD

Trust me…it did create massive problems.

8 years ago
Reply to  Kaysee

We were victims of income tax fraud last year by thieves who somehow got my wife’s social security number. They filed a federal return plus four separate state returns. However, they didn’t get one single cent out of it — all of the agencies caught the fraud and halted payment. Our refund was delayed but we pay it forward anyway. My experience is that the IRS has caught on to the crooks and are closing the loopholes. For example, identity thieves used to be able to file early in January knowing that the deadline for sending out W-2s wasn’t until the end of January, so the IRS would issue the refund before they knew there was no W2 coming in. Now they’re delaying January refunds to stop this trick.

Everyone we dealt with through this process was very helpful and professional, and this honestly was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. And TurboTax was extremely helpful as well. Both TurboTax and the IRS gave us a free year of identity monitoring.

I read a while back that nobody who works for the NSA files an electronic return. That should give us all some food for thought. We use TurboTax (the computer version, NOT the online version) to prepare our taxes, and then we print our paper returns to file by mail with the feds and state. It may sound old fashioned, but this is by far the safest way to file.

So I wish I could jump on the IRS-is-incompetent bandwagon but our experience has been exactly the opposite.

8 years ago

In recent years, I’ve owed money to the IRS and it must have sent up some warning flag when a return asking for a refund was filed. They also told me the return only was filed for my wife and me with no dependents listed. That may have sounded an alarm too. They don’t provide much info, understandably.

The interesting thing that happened a couple of months later was the Past Due invoice I received from TurboTax for that fraudulent return!! The bad guys had actually used TurboTax to file their fake return.

TurboTax was very understanding and seemed to indicate it happens all the time.

I wish the government had used some of those old tax dollars of mine to help pay for better cyber security.

Frank Crowell
8 years ago

The IRS cannot stop phony tax returns and they cannot clean up their own house of dubious actions against citizens so you must take action yourself. For what we pay in taxes we deserve much better.

8 years ago

I’m also very frustrated that the IRS can’t seem to protect the tax payer from these simple scams.

I want people to know that Senator Elizabeth Warrens office spent many hours helping me with this situation. I had several phone calls with her staff… and letters…and they were very helpful, and fantastic to work with… I think, however, that the root problem is too big for even her office to solve.

The root problem is that Congress demands that refunds be processed as soon as possible… even before the IRS has enough information to verify the return isn’t fraudulent. The IRS doesn’t like this… but they are forced to pay early…. and end up looking incompetent…. and Congress points the finger at them…calls them incompetent…instead of taking responsibility for having created the problem.

If you want to fix the IRS, you need to fix Congress, and change the laws regarding the timing of tax refunds.

Finally I want to give a warning about TurboTax. We’ve been using TurboTax for years…yet this person managed to file a return under our name….without paying a dime (it was going to be automatically deducted from the refund). The fraudster didn’t have to provide a credit card number. So what do you think happens…. 60 days later TurboTax sends us a bill….

8 years ago
Reply to  Another

I don’t follow. Did they successfully file a fraudulent return under your name with the TurboTax payment ‘to be deducted’ from the tax refund? If yes, then didn’t they receive the refund less the TurboTax payment? Maybe I’m misunderstanding the scam?

8 years ago
Reply to  SouthboroDave

Yes, they successfully filed a return under our name through Turbotax. When we went to file through TurboTax ( we also used them), our filing was rejected by the IRS because of the prior filing. I googled the problem, was alerted to a fraudulent filing, and called the IRS fraud line….waited in the phone queue for about an hour…and stopped the fefund from being processed.

The early refund program was designed by the IRS and Congress to get people their money early, while at the same time providing revenue to the debit card companies, and tax preparation firms. The IRS deducts the tax filing fee from the refund, pays TurboTax from the proceeds, and puts the remainder on a debit card.

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