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Can Someone Steal Your Tax Return

Unfortunately, yes. According to the IRS, there was about $5.7 billion in tax fraud identified in 2022. That's a lot of fraudulent tax returns! This can mean a huge delay in receiving a refund for those affected (when it happens and for future tax returns), and a lot of time and effort getting the situation sorted out. How can you make sure you get your refund and not get taken advantage of?

Woman looking stressed while looking at a document.

File as Early as Possible

Once the IRS receives a filing with your Social Security number, they will reject any subsequent filings, so try to beat the crooks to the punch and get your taxes filed ASAP. Even if you owe money, it's still important to file early. You'll have until tax day in April of the same year to pay any amount due. If that isn't quite enough time, the IRS will work with you to provide more options and ways to pay.

Choose Direct Deposit

If you are eligible for a refund, choose to receive your funds via direct deposit into your checking or savings account. The IRS will even split your refund into multiple accounts if you'd like, making it easier to save. Funds provided via direct deposit are easier to track, faster to receive, and more secure than a paper check.

Use a Reputable Tax Preparer or Tax Software

While most tax preparers are honest people, there are a few who will take advantage and find ways to steal part of your refund or trick you into providing false information. A good indication that there's something strange going on is if your tax preparer doesn't sign your tax return. By law, they have to, and if they don't, you should contact the IRS to report this immediately.

When it comes to software, only use what you know for sure is reputable. Otherwise, your information could be going straight to fraudsters who will file your taxes but will take part or all of your tax return and leave you high and dry.

Common Scams

While it's impossible to list every scam out there, there are a few things to keep an eye out for so you can avoid fraudsters. Some common ones you've probably heard of include fake charities, phishing (never click a link in a strange-looking or act now or you're in trouble sort of email), and any kind of threatening phone call from a government authority like the IRS. It can be hard to remain calm in the moment, but remember that the IRS will never call you, so hang up. If you do get a phone call or a letter that seems strange, contact the IRS using contact information from the IRS's website directly to find out more information. The same goes for phone calls or emails coming from your bank. It's better to be safe than sorry, and your bank will be glad to know you're taking security seriously and will be just fine with waiting while you call their customer service number to make sure their call is legitimate.

What You Should Do if You Fall Victim

Even with precautions, you might still experience tax fraud. What should you do if you're one of the unlucky few? First, contact the IRS immediately. Visit the IRS's tax fraud page to determine which number to call and which forms to use, as there are different options depending on the specific situation. They will then help you understand and take the next steps. You can also read more about common tax scams on the IRS's site.

Protect Your Identity

Now more than ever, it's important to protect your identity. To help you stay on top of things, consider a credit monitoring and identity theft resolution service, and for extra protection consider identity theft reimbursement. This way, your credit is monitored 24/7 so you can have peace of mind while you live your life. And, just in case you do fall victim to fraudsters, you'll have help to repair your good name. These services and many others come free with select WaFd Bank checking accounts (registration and activation may apply).

WaFd Bank is Here to Help

Offering identity protection is just the beginning. With WaFd Bank, you'll have access to products and services to make banking easy, plus we're here to answer all your questions, both big and small. Open a Rewards Checking or Interest Checking account online, visit your local branch or give us a call at 800-324-9375.


Find your local WaFd Bank Branch


Find your local WaFd Bank Branch

We're nearby, and we'll sit down with you and answer any questions you may have.