ATTLEBORO (CBS) – Anne McKinney knew something wasn’t right when she opened her mail on Friday. “When I first saw it, I looked at it and said I got $600.00 and then I saw the $6000.00 I went oh my God I never got this much in my life,” she said.
It was a tax refund from the United States Treasury. But Anne, a 67-year-old who does still work, hadn’t yet filed her taxes. She asked her long-time partner if he’d filed them for her, but he hadn’t. It ends up someone had gotten her Social Security Number and her address and filed a return in her name. She thinks they’d intended to intercept the check at her mailbox, but she got to it first. “What a mess, you know,” McKinney exclaimed.
“We have seen an uptick in the last few years and that’s why we’ve dedicated a lot more employees to working these ID theft cases so we can get the money right back to the taxpayer that really is due the money,” said Boston-based IRS Spokesperson Peggy Riley. “What we’re seeing is that they’re using information, taking the information and creating fake W2’s and filing a fake tax return in hopes of getting it in before the real taxpayer comes in to file their return. Their refund is going to be held up because we’ve gotten a return that’s filed under that number,” she explained.
Riley can’t talk about specific cases like McKinney’s, but says criminals also try to get funds direct deposited. Victims of this crime must fill out an affidavit and prove their identity afterwards, and they’re also urged to contact the credit bureau to track any more attempts at fraudulent activity linked to their social security number. For more advice from the Internal Revenue Service, go to www.irs.gov and search for identity theft.
Anne McKinney got in touch with police and filed a report. She still has no idea how the thief got her Social Security Number, but she did have two bank statements she was missing suddenly appear in her mailbox back in the fall. It wouldn’t have been on those, but she wonders if the person used the statements to piece together her personal information. However it happened, it’s going to take some time to clear it up. She hopes by telling her story, it’ll help others from becoming a victim.
“It’s a scary thing. It’s your whole life. You’re social security number is your lifeline. Just be careful with it,” she said.
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