Tax Fraud Rising in Wisconsin
State agency reports more tax payers discover someone else has already filed in their name. It's an attempt to steal their refund. Video by nbc26.comvideo
A warning when filing your taxes. Tax fraud complaints are rising in Wisconsin. The state says this season more people are complaining that someone filed their tax return and stole their refund.
Identity thieves are getting peoples' social security numbers and bank information, then using that to claim their refund. A certified tax preparer tells us being stuck in that situation is a nightmare.
"Over the course of time I've seen really strange stuff," tax preparer Kurt Heling said, with Alberts and Heling CPA.
Heling is a numbers guy. Now he can't count how many tax fraud cases he's seen.
"It makes our life harder from the standpoint of we try and streamline things by doing electronic filing and direct deposit, but if that information falls in the wrong hands, obviously that's a real hornet's nest," Heling said.
Wisconsin Trade and Consumer Protection says tax fraud cases are spiking. This season there's already been a couple dozen reports.
"It's really a mess and a headache for those victims," Susan Bach, with the BBB said.
Bach tells us identity thieves are sending out fake IRS emails to get victims' personal information. She's also seeing cases of fraudulent tax preparers who set up shop just for the season.
"When there's a problem with your return later, if you were audited or something like that, those people can't find the tax preparer. Somebody who's just sort of a fly by night," Bach said.
Bach says the IRS would never send out unsolicited emails. If you get one, Heling suggests taking it to a certified tax preparer.
"It might cost you a few bucks, but it may save you thousands in the long run," Heling said.
The BBB also suggests doing research before picking a tax preparer, and don't make a decision based on who will give the biggest refund because that tax preparer may be doing something illegal to get it.