The key to preventing tax return identity theft is…

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The key to preventing tax return identity theft is…
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Thinking about putting off filing your taxes for several more weeks? There’s a compelling reason why you might not want to.

Read more: Where’s your tax refund? How to get a personalized refund date

How to avoid tax fraud

During the last few years, crooks have been stealing people’s Social Security numbers and then filing false returns as though they were those people. The crooks typically claim low income and high deductions and file electronically. Then when you go to legitimately file your return, it’s rejected by the IRS because somebody else already filed as you!

The whole mess typically takes about 10 to 14 months to straighten out if you’re on the receiving end of the scam.

For that reason, I’ve advised callers to make sure they owe the IRS rather than the other way around. In other words, reduce your withholding at work. That way you’re not waiting around for money you can’t get your hands on. (It’s too late to do it for this current tax season, but it will help you come next year at tax time.)

Fortunately, the IRS has now trained almost half of their 80,000 employees to spot identity theft and maybe prevent some of it. They have had to dedicate somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000 employees specifically to the task of help victims of identity theft.

The good news is that it’s working! The number of false returns filed last year was 787,000 thanks to increased vigilance on the part of the IRS. That’s down from 1.2 million the prior year.

Read more: 3 ways to avoid tax fraud

How to file your taxes for free regardless of your income

Source: How to file your taxes for free regardless of your income by Clark on Rumble

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Clark Howard About the author:
Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust.
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