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Redmond residents fall victim to tax fraud
In the last few weeks, the Redmond Police Department (RPD) has received a high volume of calls for fraud — many of which involved false tax reports filed under the victims’ names.
Mike Dowd, spokesperson for the RPD, said these cases are likely the result of a recent data breach at Seattle’s Catholic Archdiocese, adding that they are not sure why there are so many people from Redmond who have fallen victim.
Since these reports involve tax fraud, Dowd said RPD is not investigating the cases. Instead, they are gathering the cases as they come in and forwarding them to IRS investigators in Seattle. He said calling the police is just to get the ball rolling before the IRS takes over the cases.
Dowd said if people have fallen victim, they can fill out IRS Form 14039, which is for identity theft. This is for individuals who have already experienced fraud that has affected their tax records or if they have experienced a compromise of their personal identifying information, even if no identity theft has occurred yet. This form could be found at www.irs.gov/Forms-&-Pubs.
For more information about contacting the IRS regarding identity theft, visit tinyurl.com/9gvyxtv.
Specifically for the archdiocese breach, Dowd said victims should file a report with their local police department and then call the IRS at 1 (800) 908-4490.
There are also some steps people can take to protect their credit in the future.
Dowd said they can place a freeze on their credit if they are not planning on applying for new credit in the near future. The freeze can be temporarily “thawed” if the individual needs to apply for new credit. In this case, there will likely be a fee for each credit bureau each time the freeze is removed or reapplied. The initial freeze is free for identity theft victims who have filed a police report, Dowd said.
For those who think a freeze would be too restrictive, he said they can set up fraud alerts instead.
In addition, Dowd said identity theft victims are entitled to a free credit report from each bureau when they become aware of their compromise.
He added that everyone is entitled to a free credit report from each bureau each year so a good way to monitor your credit regularly is to space out the free annual credit reports through the year. For example, people can obtain an Experian report in February, a TransUnion in July and then Equifax in November.
Dowd said another resource for scam alerts and information for identity theft is the Federal Trade Commission at tinyurl.com/cbllftz.