A recent article in the New York Times highlighted the rising incidence of identity theft tax fraud. The perpetrators use stolen social security numbers to electronically file false tax returns resulting in millions of dollars in undeserved refunds. They outsmart the IRS by filing a tax return before the legitimate taxpayer and collecting the refund by way of hard-to-trace prepaid debit cards. This type of fraud costs US taxpayers millions of dollars each year and causes hardship to the victims who must often wait several months to receive their rightful refunds. The IRS and several state law enforcement agencies are working hard to combat the problem but it has risen to epidemic proportions. Dowling & Yahnke advises clients to safeguard their social security numbers and dates of birth at all times. Documents containing this information should be shredded prior to disposal. In addition, we recommend the use of a secure mailbox to receive mail at home and that outgoing mail be placed in the blue USPS collection boxes, rather than left out for the postal carrier to pick up. For more information about identity theft tax fraud, read the full article.