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Iowa Attorney General warns scammers want your tax refund

In the first tax filing season since the Equifax breach the Attorney General warns Iowans to be vigilant

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) - Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller says anyone who files a tax return needs to remain vigilant and be aware they’re at risk to have their refund stolen by scammers. Last September the Equifax data breach put the names, birth dates and social security numbers of nearly 150-Million Americans out there for the taking. Miller says it’s unfortunately a very profitable form of identity theft. Someone could pretend to be you by simply knowing where you work, taking an educated guess at your wages and then fake filing for your refund, “ It’s pretty devastating for folks who were looking for a refund. The Equifax breach was overwhelming and it does present more opportunities for people to do all sorts of identity fraud, including and especially the tax related identity fraud, particularly as we head into the first season after the breach.”

Cedar Rapids Police say while the security issues with some home electronic tax filing systems a few years ago have been corrected, they want people to be aware the risk remains. Greg Buelow with CRPD says it’s a good idea to file your taxes as soon as you get your W-2 forms. That way you’re less likely to hear from the IRS that someone has already filed under your social security number. He says it’s always a good idea to keep a close eye on bank and credit card accounts and don’t think that the odds are in your favor to never be hit by scammers, they’ve seen far too many people left with a taxing nightmare, “ Unfortunately we know of individuals who have been victimzed and that it can take months, up to a year to get their refund and resolve the issue. “

The IRS reports bandits bagged nearly a quarter of a Billion dollars in fraudulent tax returns last year. Miller says if you believe you are the victim of identity theft and an attempt to steal your tax refund, take action, “ They should act quickly, they should file a complaint with the local police department, they should freeze their credit with the credit bureaus and they should contact the IRS and Department of Revenue in Iowa immediately. " For more information on protecting yourself from identity theft fraud click here .

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