Tax season begins in one week. That means the risk of identity fraud is its peak. According to the Federal Trade Commission, tax identity theft is the most common type of fraud in the United States.
Elsie Hardt believes she may be one of those statistics. The Moberly woman received a text message from a five-digit number that encouraged her to visit a website and finish her online, electronically filed tax return. The link led her to e-filing status section of TaxAct.com where it asked for her social security number, phone number, and last name.
Fortunately, Hardt immediately became skeptical. After digging more into the website, TaxAct.com is an accredited, online service through the Better Business Bureau. People who sign up for their program can electronically file their taxes over the Internet. However, Hardt said she had never heard of TaxAct.com, let alone signed up for the service.
This is not the first time Hardt has had experience with financial skepticism. Two years ago, someone tried to charge more than $500 to her credit card. Six months later, her debit card and bank account were similarly compromised. Hardt believes this may be yet another attempt for someone to steal her identity and file a tax return in her name.
Mike Harrison, BBB Mid-Missouri Regional Director, said this type of fraud is not uncommon. Numerous scams happen every year around tax season, specifically with those posing as the Internal Revenue Service. Harrison said if the IRS needs to contact someone, they will never send a text message, call, or e-mail. The IRS only communicates by mail.
If you believe you have been a victim of tax identity theft, the IRS asks you to call their Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490.