Blue Springs, Mo. – The Blue Springs Police Department wants to warn residents about the growing problem of tax-related identity theft and reduce their risk of becoming a victim.
Tax-related identity theft is most common this time of year and occurs when someone uses a stolen Social Security Number (SSN) to file a tax return in order to claim a fraudulent refund. Usually, the thief will use your SSN to file a false return early in the year. You may be unaware you are a victim until you try to file your taxes and learn one already has been filed using your SSN.
“It is imperative that residents protect their personal information,” says Sgt. Jeff Sargent of the Blue Springs Police Department. “The best preventative tip is to file tax returns early so no one else can use your social security number. When filing by mail make sure you use a secure mailbox and when filing electronically do so on a secure network.”
Other ways to reduce your risk of identity theft include:
• Checking your credit report annually
• Do not routinely carry your Social Security card with you
• Don’t give out personal information over the phone or through mail unless you have initiated contact
• Protect your personal financial information at home and on your computer
Identity theft may still occur even after taking precaution. Some warning signs include more than one tax return filed using your SSN, owing additional tax or receiving a refund for a year you did not file or IRS records showing wages received from an employer you have not filed with.
If you discover that you have become a victim of tax-related identity theft, there is assistance at the federal and local level. Victims should first report the theft online at www.ftc.gov then reach out to your financial institutions to review any accounts that have been tampered with. Additional steps to take with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) include:
• Respond immediately to any IRS notice received by calling the number provided
• Complete IRS form 14039-Identity Theft Affidavit. Use a fillable form at IRS.gov, print, then mail or fax it
• Continue to pay your taxes and file your tax return, even if you must do so by paper.
At the local level, residents can contact Blue Springs Police Department’s Crime Prevention Unit at 816-228-0178. IRS tax-related identity theft information packets can be downloaded from the City’s website at www.bluespringsgov.com and are available for pickup at the Municipal Annex, 1304 W Main Street through the end of January 2016. Packets will be available at the Howard L. Brown Public Safety Building, 1100 SW Smith Street beginning in February 2016.
Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BlueSpringsGov, like our Facebook page at
www.facebook.com/bluespringsgov. Links to both sites can be found by visiting the City’s website at www.bluespringsgov.com.