Man’s sense of security shaken by tax fraud

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A restaurant manager says he’s out thousands of dollars after someone filed a false tax return using his social security number.

Doing things online nowadays goes much faster than doing them the “old way,” or by hand. But, does the convenience of technology go hand in hand with the risk of theft? Fox 4 spoke with a man who says it absolutely does.

Matt Green has been working the last few weeks to restore his identity. The restaurant general manager was doing his taxes and looking at vacations online at the same time, and was excited about his $5,000 refund.

When he clicked submit on the Turbo Tax website, he was informed his social security number had already been used for this year’s return. Not only did vacation plans go out the window, but so did Green’s sense of security and peace of mind.

He said he waited on the phone with the IRS for four hours and 59 minutes, he checked his credit, and he alerted his bank. He also said he called the company repeatedly and can’t get ahold of anyone to answer his questions.

“It’s all over the place right now and these thieves are just stealing everyone’s social security numbers," Green said.

Fox 4 spoke with accountant Kenneth Strough, who says this problem doesn't get solved quickly.

“It’s not just tax returns. I’ve seen credit. And it takes like a year to unravel all that,” he advised.

Green said it’ll take a year for the IRS just to file the paperwork to help him receive the money that’s rightfully his.

He says he doesn’t know how to advise others how to protect themselves because he believed he was diligent in safeguarding his information. Instead, his advice is for someone who finds themselves in the same boat is: “Just be diligent about it. If it happens to you, make sure you get your stuff done. There are a lot of thieves out there right now. As much as it’s not fun to go through the process, you have to do it. You can’t ignore it.”

Strough said there are four things someone needs to file an electronic return: a person’s social security number, the first four letters of the person’s name spelled correctly, a person’s birthdate, and who the person works for. He says most of this can be found online, especially for a strong hacker, and it’s the price we’re paying today for convenience.

“Everybody wants the convenience of 'I want to take a picture of the check and then deposit it from my phone to my bank. I don’t want to have to go to the bank. I don’t want to have to do anything old school.' The easier you make it for you to do it, the easier you make it for someone to grab your stuff,” he said.

Green says he’d would’ve rather had his car stolen because at least insurance can cover that. There was some consumer concern earlier this year surrounding Turbo Tax after the company halted the filing of state returns due to stolen personal information. Green hasn’t been able to reach the company to find out whether his case is related.