Equifax breach could affect your tax refund

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The Equifax data breach is apparently been a bigger bonanza for criminals than first thought.

It may make it easier for criminals to file a false tax return in your name.

Last September, the massive Equifax data breach was made public leaving many scrambling to freeze their credit.

But those efforts may not prevent the kind of identity theft that will affect your tax returns.

When hackers stole more than 145 million people’s data from Equifax, we learned it compromised people’s names, addresses, social security numbers, birthdates and driver’s license numbers.

But new information compiled by the Senate Banking Committee indicates hackers were also able to steal taxpayer ID numbers, email addresses, and detailed driver’s license info like where and when they were issued.

“They have a cornucopia of information, enough to give anyone all the ammunition they need to file a false tax return,” said tax expert Adam Levin.

What’s worse, tax experts like Levin say credit freezes or monitoring won’t stop tax related identity theft.

“If they have name and date of birth and social security number, they’re off to the races because they can create a fake W-2 form,” Levin said.

To help cut down on that kind of fraud, the IRS has added a new security measure.

It’s placing a verification code box on all official W-2 forms to help with authentication.

The code will be generated by your employer will appear on only your W-2.

But, if you’re the victim of tax ID theft, some experts say the IRS can be slow to let you know you’ve been victimized.

Professor Steve Weisman of Bentley University has researched ID theft and written several books on the topic. He says the IRS is “such a bureaucratic nightmare they don’t really let you know as soon as possible that you’re a victim and you need to fight this.”

And, CBS News says it found out that during peak filing season, it can take the IRS an average of 9 months to resolve ID theft cases.

If you’ve been victimized by a tax return ID theft, use this link to help you navigate the process. It contains may resources to help you figure out what to do.

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