Georgia is among the states with the most cases of identity theft. Many people are targets around tax time, falling prey to scam artists who file bogus claims under unsuspecting taxpayer names and Social Security numbers. The Internal Revenue Service is aware of this and is taking steps to help protect you.
You may wait longer this year for your refund
Within a few days, people will begin filing income tax returns for 2016. Generally, those who are early filers have overpaid into withholding and anticipate a refund of few thousand or so. But because of tax ID theft, many states and the feds have new security procedures that are likely to delay your refund even if you file electronically, according to The Washington Post.
These fraud systems being followed by the states and the feds are not being disclosed so criminals don’t know what the protocols are. But they will involve putting your return through additional verification steps to make sure as best as possible that it’s you and not the crooks filing your return.
When a return does not seem to fit normal patterns, it will be flagged for additional scrutiny. If your return is flagged, you will likely be contacted to verify that you are who you say you are and that it really is your return you’re filing. The goal is to eliminate the massive tax fraud that’s plagued the IRS and has had some taxpayers waiting 10 to 14 months for their refund. So if it takes another week or so to kick the crooks out of the system, all the better!
Read more: 15 red flags that will get you audited by the IRSâ€‹
Here’s how to get your PIN
For those of you who live in Georgia, the Peach State is part of an ongoing pilot program to help protect taxpayers. All taxpayers in Georgia, Florida and the District of Columbia are eligible for an Identity Protection PIN that will protect them from tax related ID theft, according the IRS.
‘What it does, it adds an extra layer of protection for taxpayers when they go to file their tax returns,’ says Mark Green with the IRS.
The IP PIN is a six-digit number that must be used on a tax return, in addition to the Social Security number, to verify the taxpayers’ identity. Once you opt into the program you can’t opt out. You will get a new PIN each year through the mail.
Visit www.irs.gov/getanippin to opt into the program .
‘Stopping identity theft and refund fraud is a top priority for the Internal Revenue Service,’ says Green.
Residents outside of Georgia, Florida and the District of Columbia are eligible to get the PIN if they’ve already been a victim of tax return ID theft.
Additionally, some taxpayers are now getting letters from the IRS. The message on the letter read, in part: ‘We selected you because our records show that we placed an identity theft indicator on your account or your account met other specific account criteria.’
If you get this letter, know that this is the real deal; don’t think it’s a fake!
More ways to protect yourself from tax fraud
- How to scam-proof your taxes
- 7 most common IRS and tax scams that come back every year
- How to spot a fake IRS phone call
For more tax advice, see our Money section.