Criminals targeting tax refunds

Published On: Feb 27 2013 07:50:01 PM CST   Updated On: Feb 27 2013 10:53:34 PM CST
LA CROSSE, Wis. -

More and more Wisconsin residents are having their tax returns stolen this year.

The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is reporting a significant rise in fradulent tax filings. At least 12 officials complaints have already been filed this tax season.

Tax professionals say criminals are targeting tax refunds because direct deposit makes it quick and easy to get their hands on your money.

“They can use fictitious withholding information or they can create fictitious W2's for document matching purposes and have all the refunds go to one bank account," said Jenna Deets, a tax preparer at Advisors Management Group in La Crosse.

If someone else does file in your name, you will be able to get your refund eventually. Deets, however, says it will take a lot longer and working with the IRS to sort through the fraud.

“Often times they have to file a police report, (file) an affidavit with the IRS and go through the whole process to prove to the IRS that they are the correct tax preparer. I've seen it take almost a year,” she said.

Deets is not surprised that Wisconsin's consumer protection agency is warning people about a growing number of fradulent tax filings. She says once a criminal has your social security number, faking the other information is the easy part.

“Only give it out if it is absolutely required,” said Deets, about social security numbers.

Wisconsin Revenue Secretary Richard Chandler says filing electronically is actually a good way to keep your information safe.

“It’s convenient. It's secure. The program does the math for you. You get confirmation immediately that you're return is filed,” said Chandler

“Best of all, you get your refund in a matter of days rather than having to wait for weeks if you paper file to get that paper check back," he added.

Professionals say not being the next victim is all about protecting your information.