Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your stolen Social Security number to file a tax return to receive a fraudulent tax refund.
And when the tax refund check or refund debit card is sent through the U.S. Mail, it falls within the Postal Inspection Service jurisdiction under the category of Identity Fraud.
According to the IRS document, "Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft," an identity theft tax refund scam "occurs when someone uses your personal [identifying] information [PII] such as your name, Social Security number [SSN] or other identifying information, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes."
Tax refund fraud has exploded in recent years — it's a growing epidemic. About 1.6 million Americans were victims of ID theft/tax refund crimes last year, according to a recent audit by the Treasury Department’s inspector general.
If you find that someone is using your personal information to open new accounts, make purchases, or get a tax refund, (1) contact the the fraud department of your financial institution right away. Explain that someone stole your identity; (2) Ask them to close or freeze the accounts. Then, no one can add new charges unless you agree; and (3) Change logins, passwords and PINS for your accounts.
Remember, if the U.S. Mail was used in a crime, even if the crime began on the Internet, phone, or in person, report it to U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455, or at postalinspectors.uspis.gov.