Tax-related identity fraud on the rise - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Tax-related identity fraud on the rise

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

According to a CBS report, 23-year-old Sergeant Adam Ray died fighting in Afghanistan. But before his family could file his taxes, someone else had already done it, stealing $1400 on a refund that should have gone to Adam's parents.

"How can someone do this?" Adam's mother told a CBS reporter. "My son gave his life for you, and now you're going to steal what little few dollars he has left?"

The Ray's are victims of a growing problem - tax-related identity fraud. Scammers filing before you do, and reaping your benefits.

Theresa Peyton is the author of a book addressing identity fraud.

She says this tax scam is pulled off in a couple of ways. Scam artists can simply steal your private info from your tax preparer's office, if he or she isn't careful enough.

"You want to ask them how they're safeguarding your information," she says.

"So they're not emailing things out in the open without any security features. They're not leaving your stuff around where people can read it or steal it or take it."

But you can also give up the information yourself, if you click on links attached to phishing emails.

"People don't even realize they're turning their data over to the bad guys," Peyton says. "So they get an email that says You're entitled to a refund or we looked at last year's tax returns and we realized you paid too much. Click here, type in your information, and we'll send you your money."

But those are actually easy to avoid, because the real IRS would never contact you that way.

"The good news is the IRS has said we will never EVER send you an email," says Petyon.

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