ASK A COP
With tax season here, what type of fraud should I be aware of?
Editor's note: This story has been updated from its original version.
With tax season upon us, people need to be aware of a type of fraud that has been increasing over the past few years. Identity theft through fake tax returns is now one of the most prevalent types of fraud that we encounter.
This fraud occurs when someone obtains your name and Social Security Number and files a tax return in your name prior to you actually filing. When you then try to file your actual tax return, you get notified by the IRS or the Oregon Department of Revenue that your tax return has been denied — since "you" already filed it.
While the Oregon Department of Revenue doesn't require a police report to overwrite the fraudulent tax return, you may wish to file a report with your local police department. The Lake Oswego Police Department will provide you with a case number, and we will complete a report that we will then forward to the appropriate agency.
When completing your tax return, it is best to file electronically when possible. Otherwise, be sure to mail your paper return from a U.S. Postal Service office or in a secure, blue USPS mailbox. Refrain from using your personal mailbox, as mail thieves could steal your return and would then have everything they need to steal your identity. Thieves can also alter the check you enclose to pay your taxes and cash it.
If you're expecting a refund, use a direct-deposit option so that a check will not be waiting in your mailbox — for you or for mail thieves.
The Lake Oswego Police Department welcomes reports of suspicious activity — including anyone seen looking into mailboxes — at any time of the year, but especially around tax time. Should you see this occurring, please do not hesitate to report it to our dispatch center at 503-635-0238.
— Sgt. James Peterson
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the requirements for overwriting a fraudulent tax return. The Oregon Department of Revenue does not require a police report to overwrite a fraudulent tax return.