INDEPENDENCE, Mo. – One couple says they have fallen victim to identity theft in a tax filing scheme. Because tax time is upon us, scammers like the ones who took advantage of this couple are already taking advantage of the system.
The IRS gets a number of reports of identity theft every year.
One local Independence couple says not only did someone steal their identity, but they might have to shell out even more money to fix the damage that's already been done.
"We filed on the 16th, the day he got his W2, and we went and picked the W2 up, went straight to H&R Block and filed taxes, and then the IRS opened the 20th," said Ashley Thurman.
Ashley and her husband, Anthony Thurman, found out that their return was rejected last Thursday.
"They said we were rejected because either mine or her social security number was used as the spouse on somebody else's tax return," Anthony said.
They double checked with H&R Block and called the IRS. They were told to file a police report and an identity theft affidavit.
"We have to do all this extra work, when we really did nothing wrong. It's not our fault, all we did was file our taxes like we normally do," added Anthony.
They say H&R Block said they would investigate but it could take 180 days or more to find out the details, fix the problem, and it would cost them $400.
"We don't have money like that," said Anthony.
"We have to paper file now, we had to send in copies of all our social security numbers and IDs enlarged," Ashley added.
This year the IRS is pushing hard on what it calls the "dirty dozen" scams to alert taxpayers.
"We were really looking forward to that money," Ashley said. "I wrecked our only vehicle back in June, and we we're hoping to be able to get another one."
"I was without a job for a couple months and I just got back to work so we've been a little behind, and we were hoping to get back ahead and stuff, and it's just hard on my family, we have a big family and it's rough on us," said Anthony.
The Thurman’s have three kids. They say this is the one time of year they can splurge.
"Not so much for me, but for the kids," said Anthony. "Because it's the only time of year we get to go buy them games, we put some aside for them and let them get what they want."
The Thurman’s say they've been calling their credit card companies and banks to ensure there's no other fraud.
"All they do is sit at home and try to make a quick buck, while we're working our butts off," Anthony said.
For information from the IRS on how to protect yourself this tax season:
The IRS has issued a “Dirty Dozen” tax scams release around the start of filing season since 2003 and Identity Theft has been listed several times. This year for the first time, the IRS is issuing individual Dirty Dozen scam releases through Feb. 6.
“We are doing everything we can to help taxpayers avoid scams as tax time gets under way," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "We are focusing on each of the Dirty Dozen individually this year to draw more attention to these scams that can harm people."
We cannot discuss individual taxpayers or comment on general questions when those answers could be applied to a specific taxpayer because strict privacy laws protect every individual and business entity from unauthorized disclosures of details of their relationship with the IRS.
Identity theft remains a top priority for the Internal Revenue Service. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes nationwide, and refund fraud caused by identity theft is one of the biggest challenges facing the IRS. The IRS is focused on preventing, detecting and resolving identity theft cases as soon as possible.
IRS Criminal Investigation continues its robust efforts, and in Fiscal Year 2014, the IRS initiated 1,063 identity theft-related investigations. Criminal Investigation enforcement efforts resulted in 748 sentencings as compared to 438 in FY 2013, an increase of 75 percent. Our incarceration rate rose to 87.7 percent as compared to 80.6 percent in FY 2013. The courts imposed significant jail time with the average months to serve in FY 2014 at 43 months as compared to 38 months in FY 2013 with the longest sentencing being 27 years.
The IRS has more than 3,000 employees working on identity theft cases. We have trained more than 35,000 employees who work with taxpayers to recognize and provide assistance when identity theft occurs. We’re focused on preventing, detecting and resolving identity theft cases as soon as possible.
Here are links to more information: www.irs.gov.
See the special identity theft section on IRS.gov at http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Identity-Protection
IRS Fact Sheet 2015-1, IRS Combats Identity Theft and Refund Fraud on Many Fronts
IRS Fact Sheet 2015-2, Identity Theft Information for Taxpayers and Victims.
IR-2015-07, Jan. 26, 2015 — The IRS today issued a filing season alert warning taxpayers to watch out for identity theft at tax time, one of the year’s “Dirty Dozen” tax scams.
IR-2015-06, Jan. 23, 2015 — The IRS today warned taxpayers to watch out for fake emails or websites looking to steal personal information.
IR-2015-05, Jan. 22, 2015 — Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain near the top of the annual "Dirty Dozen" list of tax scams for the 2015 filing season, the Internal Revenue Service announced today.
There is also information on the FTC website about identity theft. http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft