Preparing your taxes takes seemingly forever, right? Imagine that after all this hard work, you’re finally done and are about to file your taxes online, when a message comes up, informing you that you are not eligible to file for taxes, because you’ve already filed. Alright, obviously, it’s certainly a glitch in the system, right? It must be. So you try again. Same message. What next? You decide to go to irs.gov to see what’s going on, only to find out that you already have an account with them?!?
This scenario is not a work of fiction, unfortunately. It’s precisely what happened to a man named Michael Kasper recently. Following this, he decided to get directly in touch with the IRS by calling their dedicated Identity Theft hotline. The good news? He found out that his tax return ($8,936) has not been deposited into the thief’s bank account. The bad news? It will be deposited that same day and there is nothing that can prevent it. They wouldn’t even give Kasper any information about the bank account or almost anything else in regards to this fraudulent tax filing – that is, until Michael paid $50.
Skipping ahead a bit, after a bit of luck, Kasper was able to get the police involved and the owner of the bank account was located. Unfortunately, it was a young college student who responded to a Craigslist ad for an opportunity to make quick money. She received the money, kept a small portion of it, and send the rest out to Nigeria via Western Union. She claims to have never known this might be a criminal activity.
So how were the thieves able to execute this whole operation all the way from Nigeria? The theory goes that the criminals were able to access Kasper’s previous filing records by providing answers to four simple questions. Name, date of birth, Social Security number, and filing status. Once you correctly answer these for questions, you will be allowed to access previous records. Once the criminal is in possession of this information, you’re in serious trouble. And how do the criminals get hold of the information needed? It’s rather easy. This type of information is being sold on the black market (accessible from your computer) for very cheap.
Lesson learned: If you haven’t done so already, go to irs.gov immediately and register yourself there. If you are unable to register, as did Mr. Kasper, contact the IRS immediately and attempt to launch an investigation with your local police.