Consumers rushing to file their taxes before the April 15 deadline should guard their personal information. Someone stole important information from a St. Tammany Parish man, and that theft has forced him to take immediate action.
"I don't disclose my social security to just anybody," said Ryan Kaufmann of Slidell. However, Kaufmann learned recently that someone stole his social security number. Essentially, his identity was stolen.
"I never thought it would happen to me. You hear about it. It can happen to you, and it's devastating when it does. It's a big burden to have to deal with, " he said.
Hours after Kaufmann filed his 2013 federal tax return online, he says he received an email that explained his tax return was rejected. Kaufmann says when he contacted the IRS to find out why it got rejected, he was shocked and angry over what he was told.
"She (IRS employee) said that essentially someone went online, made up a fake W-2, came up with a fake company, and made you an employee of the company, and it happens right as soon as the new year comes. So they basically jump on these fraudulent W-2s and tax returns as soon as they can, and they'll receive a refund before you even receive your W-2," explained Kaufmann. He says someone stole his identity and received his tax refund.
Almost immediately, Kaufmann says he contacted one of the major credit reporting agencies in the U.S. "That's the first thing I did was get my credit locked so that anyone who attempts to access any information they immediately notify me," said Kaufmann.
Besides monitoring your credit, if you become the victim of identity theft, you should also notify your bank and file a police report with your local law enforcement agency. Kaufmann told us he also had to re-file his tax return manually along with an identity theft affidavit. That Internal Revenue Service form can be found at www.irs.gov.
According to the IRS website, the agency urges identity theft victims, or people who suspect they may be a victim, to call the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490. The IRS says a typical case can take 180 days to resolve.
If you have a consumer complaint, call the FOX 8 Defenders staffed with volunteers from the National Council of Jewish Women at 1-877-670-6397.