Attorney General’s Consumer Column

Be alert for tax identity theft as filing season begins.

Consumers should be aware that there are identity thieves seeking to steal the consumers’ identities to file fake tax returns.

Tax identity theft occurs when an identity thief uses a taxpayer’s stolen identity to file a fraudulent return and claim the victim’s tax refund. The identity thief often uses a stolen Social Security number and other consumer information to file a forged return.

Although most workers receive their W-2 forms from their employers by the end of January, many consumers wait to file returns. A scammer who has access to your personal information can take advantage of that delay to file in your name. Because the IRS tries to process refunds quickly, the scammers receive their fraudulent refunds electronically or in the mail before you file.

Tax-related identity theft was the most common form of identity theft reported to the Federal Trade Commission in 2014. In calendar year 2015, more than $85.5 million in attempted fraudulent tax refunds were identified and prevented by the Missouri Department of Revenue, often because the taxpayer had filed early and had already received a refund – more than doubling the $39.9 million amount in 2014.

The Attorney General’s Office offers the following tips to help consumers avoid becoming a victim of this type of identity theft.

Consumer tips and information

  • File as early as you are able.
  • Use only reputable electronic filing programs from respected vendors or tax return preparers.
  • The IRS doesn't initially contact a taxpayer by email, text, or social media message. They will not ask for personal or financial information in this way. If you get an email that claims to be from the IRS, do not reply or click on any links. Instead, forward it to If you receive an unsolicited email or text that claims to be from the Missouri Department of Revenue, do not reply or click on any links. Instead, contact
  • Don’t routinely carry your Social Security card or any document with your Social Security number on it.
  • Don’t give personal information over the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you have either initiated the contact or you are sure you know who is asking.
  • Report suspicious online or emailed phishing scams to: For phishing scams by phone, fax or mail, call: 1-800-366-4484. Report IRS impersonation scams to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s IRS Impersonation Scams Reporting. For suspicious contacts which you suspect might be DOR imposters, contact

If you think someone used your Social Security number for a tax refund, contact the IRS or the Missouri Department of Revenue immediately.

More information concerning identity theft and tax fraud identity theft is available at the Attorney General’s website at and a booklet for identity theft victims is also available at:

The Caldwell County News

101 South Davis
P.O. Box 218
Hamilton, MO 64644
Phone: 816-583-2116

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