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Tax identity theft on rise for past few years

Posted at 6:47 PM, Mar 07, 2016

Herman and Sharon Volpe are more cautious than they ever have been before when it comes to filing their taxes.

“It feels like you were violated,” said Sharon Volpe.

The couple experienced identity theft last year just a day after they filed.

Herman Volpe said, “When it happens and you see it on TV, on the news all the time and once it hits home, then you really feel it.”

“How they got into the system itself and took what we had guarded all these years, and just ran, just took it and ran. These people have no couth,” Sharon said.

And it took almost a year to get things back to normal. Their story is just one of many during this time of year.

“In the last two to three years, it’s definitely been on the rise,” said Paul Pahoresky, CPA for JLP CPAs Accountant & Business Advisors.

He’s been an auditor for more than 20 years and said he's seen hundreds of cases just like the Volpes.

“Our firm probably had 20 people last year that got hit. Typically, it’s only showing up late in tax season.”

Last year, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine received more than 700 complaints on this issue, and this year, over 50 in just the past two months.

Pahoresky said identity theft can be hard to identify ahead of time.

“It’s totally a surprise how you see it, because you go to transmit somebody’s return, and it says return is rejected because there’s already a return on file, so that’s how we discover it.”

He told me one way to protect your information is filing early.

“That will help reduce it, because the scammers are coming in early to file early.”

Also, keep a close eye out on who you give your social security number.

“Just being vigilant is what I’d say…if an organization asks you for their social try to say is there another identifying number that I can provide,” Pahoresky said.

Another piece of advice he told me was to register your name and social security number with a credit surveillance company. That way, someone monitors your private, sensitive information at all times.

Last year, the state initiated a taxpayer identification quiz to try to block scammers from accessing people’s tax refunds.