Tax refund fraud schemes plaguing South Floridians

When you consider the amount of time that we spend at work, all the hours we dedicate to our jobs and the amount of effort we make to earn our paychecks, it should come as no surprise that we are beginning to organize our financial records and preparing to file our taxes in hopes of reaping a refund.

Some people see it as a wish granted by the “Money Fairy,” who inevitably comes to our rescue and makes our financial problems disappear as like magic. The only negative side to all of this is that everyone wants a share of that dollar, and some will do whatever it takes to get it, even if it means stealing another person’s identity and claiming their return as their own.

Some unfortunate citizens will come face to face with that scam when they file their taxes and subsequently receive a notice in the mail explaining that someone else had used their ID and collected their refund. Sadly, it happens even to the most responsible individuals, which is why even police officers have been victimized by this crime.

Of course, credit card theft and identity fraud are nothing new. However, there are steps you can take to prevent it from happening to you. For example, never carry your social security number, birth certificate or passport information with you. Always have your important documents that are difficult to replace in a safe, secured place.

On the other hand, there are those who never claim their own money, which also is unfortunate. Say, for example, that you get a part-time job, or you only worked a week and made $200 but paid $30 in taxes. The law says you don’t need to file taxes because you didn’t make enough to have to do so. Regardless, the money they took out of your check for taxes isn’t owed to the government. You should file regardless so that you can get a refund of your $30. When money is taken out of your check for taxes, it’s basically like a “pre-payment” on the taxes they assume you will pay at the end of the year. If you didn’t make enough to pay any taxes, then you are owed the money you paid in, not including things like Social Security and Medicare.

Watch Al Sunshine’s “Money Watch” reports Monday-Friday beginning at noon. You may find Al’s blog at cbs4.com/4yourmoney.

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