The day after electronically filing my Federal Tax Return, I was advised that someone else had already filed it...several months ago. It took a few moments to absorb that I am a victim of identity fraud and didn't even suspect it. Tampa seems to be the epi-center of this particular type of fraud, and the Bradenton Police told me I was the third person today reporting it. Here's how it goes.
The Plan: defraud the US Govt by stealing someone's identity & filing a fake tax return
The Action: steal or buy a list of valid social security numbers with addresses and dates of birth; buy a $20 pre-paid debit card at a local store; create a fake W-2 (with a big refund due) and submit the phony tax return electronically
The Re-Action: the IRS receives & processes the return without verifying the information; your tax refund appears as a credit on the debit card
The Result: the thief collects the refund by cashing out the card while "the mark" (that would be me) doesn't know their identity has been stolen until they legally file their taxes, followed by a sad call from the IRS
As a result of this, I'm spending a lot of time this week away from the kitchen. After filing the local police report I have to call the FTC, plus all three credit reporting agencies. Then comes the fun task of reviewing any financial accounts linked with my social security number. I'll probably never find out how & when my information was stolen, let alone who. Physical rape is not the only way of feeling incredibly violated. I hope you never find yourself in this place, but I have to agree with W.C. Fields that "all things considered, I'd rather be in Philadelphia."
I've posted a tentative list of which goodies I'll be bringing to Geraldson's Farmer's Market this Sunday from 11-3. If you'd like to be notified each time there is a new blog post, either send your email address to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or click on the "FOLLOW BY EMAIL" button located on the right side of this page under this week's menu.
Hugs from my kitchen & damnation to the thief,