Money Monday: Unclaimed federal income tax refunds waiting to be claimed

Money Monday: Unclaimed federal income tax refunds waiting to be claimed

In another version, after you get that erroneous refund, you get an automated call, allegedly from the IRS, threatening you with criminal fraud charges, an arrest warrant, and "blacklisting" of your Social Security number.

News reports have featured a number of stories highlighting the different ways that thieves have stolen personal information from victims and used it to commit tax identity theft.

Those wanting to file an old tax return can find the appropriate forms on the IRS documents page.

However, another more ominous scam has appeared this year in which con artists steal tax return data from preparers, and then file returns in the victim's name.

And always have your refund deposited into your own bank account - never into the preparer's bank account or onto a pre-paid card or gift card, the governor said.

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If you're like roughly three-quarters of USA tax filers, you'll get a refund when you file your 2017 federal income tax return this year. It's likely that any mail you receive with a return address that begins "Internal Revenue Service" is going to get your attention, but you should pay especially close attention to these due to the heightened risk of tax identity theft.

One new scam involves cyber criminals filing fake tax returns and getting fake tax refunds by posing as IRS workers and debt collectors. Don't reply to or click on any links in any kinds of messages like this; instead, forward the message to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov so they can investigate it further. "If you have any doubts about who's contacting you then don't be bullied into taking immediate action".

Take additional steps to limit the potential damage of identity theft.

The IRS reminds taxpayers seeking a 2014 tax refund that their checks may be held if they have not filed tax returns for 2015 and 2016. Simply contact any one of the three major credit-reporting bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax or Experian) and they will alert the other two bureaus about your fraud alert.

There are some circumstances in which your refund may take longer. If they do not file a tax return within three years, the money becomes the property of the U.S. Treasury. In Texas, 108,000 people didn't file a tax return in 2014, leaving behind a whopping $122 million. If you're under age 59, the government will assess a 10 percent penalty right off the top of the amount you withdraw.

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