From “Number of fraudulent tax claims filed on the rise” — An area accountant is offering tips to make sure you’re the only one filing your taxes this year.

The Federal Trade Commission says the number of complaints of people filing taxes in someone else’s name was up eight percent last year.  This recently happened to dozens of workers in Ladysmith.

DeeAnne Peterson-Meyer, an accountant and instructor at Chippewa Valley Technical College, says she’s had two clients who had someone else file taxes in their name.

“This is the first year seeing the fraud of already having filed a tax return,” says Peterson-Meyer.  “We see them in other ways, but I think more-so it’s the ability to access W-2s online.”

Peterson-Meyer says all it takes is for someone to get your social security number to file your taxes.  One way to protect yourself is to change passwords for online accounts often.  Make the password unique and don’t store it on your computer.

“Your employer can have the best security in the world, but if someone has all the personal information needed to download that W-2, well they can file a return and get a refund before you do,” says Peterson-Meyer.

Peterson-Meyer says some other tips include not storing tax information on your computer and don’t respond to e-mails inviting you to use free file services.

“You can click on that and it will give you an identical looking site for you to supposedly file your return,” says Peterson-Meyer.  “The only place you’re going to go for free file access is to the IRS web site.”

The Wisconsin Department of Revenue says 80 percent of people file their taxes online.

“We do take all those complaints of fraud very, very seriously,” says Rick Chandler, Wisconsin Department of Revenue Secretary.  “Overall, we have a low rate of fraud.  If there are any cases of identity theft, we’ll work with the IRS or other organizations to try to resolve them.”

“I think it’s a good thing, I think people just need to be aware of all the different ways their personal information can be obtained,” says Peterson-Meyer.  “And we don’t think about that all the time when we’re out there socializing.”

If someone files taxes in your name, it can take months for the IRS and Department of Revenue to clear your name.

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