Warning for Taxpayers: Identity Theft During Tax Season

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Thousands across Maryland have fallen victim to identity theft.

Criminals steal information to file tax returns. State comptroller Peter Franchot says there’s at least 2,000 victims already.

It’s that time of the year. While millions nationwide are waiting to find out just how much money they’ll get back, criminals are hacking away, trying to steal identities and cash in on tax returns in Maryland.

“In this day and age it seems like if someone is going to get information on you, they can,” said Annapolis resident Brian Bolter.

A letter was sent out by the comptroller saying:

We received your return but if you did not file one, someone may have attempted to use your personal information and you may be a victim of identity theft.

The harsh reality for Bolter.

“We didn’t think it would get to the step where someone tried to file our taxes for us,” said Bolter, who fell victim and received the letter.

“Whoever stole our identity, tried to file our taxes for IRS and state, hoping to get a refund,” he said.

Franchot says if you already filed, you’re not required to do anything but if you received a letter and you didn’t file, you need to act quickly.

“The public should be very concerned, there’s just an out of control threat,” Franchot said.

He also says there’s plenty of potential red flags that tip them off.

“When we see big discrepancies between previous returns filed for same individual,” he said.

Franchot says your information can get used very quickly and what’s even more scary is damage control.

“It is very complicated, getting yourself extricated from that kind of criminal activity,” he said.

The comptroller says information on the return is striking because criminals get W-2 forms down to the penny.

They’re urging residents to be careful with their social security numbers, because that is key for thieves to get inside your finances.

Franchot says these actions are very prosecutable and he’s asking the legislator to give him investigatory powers to bring some of these people to court and to justice.

Anyone with suspicions or questions is urged to call the revenue administration division at 1-800-638-2937.

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