As annual tax returns are being calculated and submitted in a last-minute furor across the country, Fairfax County Police have received an alarming report of 75 to 100 cases of tax identification fraud in recent weeks. Detectives are warning residents of the scam and urge them to take precautions to prevent being victimized.
In this recent series of crimes, taxpayers don’t discover they’ve been victimized until after they file their tax returns and are told that the IRS has already received and documented their returns. Confused and perplexed, victims are told to contact the Financial Crimes Investigative unit to report the matter and that their security numbers have been stolen or compromised. Victims must handle the arduous process of clearing up the financial mess created by these swindlers.
Detectives stress that while there is little that can be done locally to track suspects in these cases, education and prevention are key factors that can help prevent identity theft. They issue the following precautions:
- Limit the occasions you share your social security number with others.
- Do not voluntarily give your social security to others.
- Closely monitor your credit reports to catch potential fraud early.
- As odd as it sounds, closely monitor your children’s credit reports as well; thieves are known to steal children’s social security numbers as well.
- Virginia residents can have a customer identifier on their driver’s license in lieu of their social security number.
- Shred all personal information at home prior to trash disposal.
- Opt out of pre-approved credit applications by calling 888-567-8688.
For more information on financial crimes, check http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/police/financialcrimes/. To schedule a group presentation with a financial crimes expert, contact the Public Information Office at 703-246-3271.