Last-minute tax filing is identity theft ‘gold mine,' experts say

Security expert says stolen IDs used for more than tax refunds

ORLANDO, Fla. – Tuesday is tax day and security experts said those last minute filers could be a target of high-tech scammers hoping to assume someone’s identity and pocket their refund.

The risk is especially high in Florida.

The Federal Trade Commission reported that Florida ranked in the top 10 states for identity theft complaints in the last 12 years.

Florida ranked second behind Michigan and just ahead of Delaware in 2016, according to the FTC report.

The tax refund scam is just part of the story, Eugenia Buggs, vice president of global marketing at Generali Global Assistance's Identity and Digital Protection Services Global Unit told News 6.

“We see all of our fraud numbers go up right after tax season,” Buggs said. “Because fraudsters are using the information in a number of ways … things like W2s are a gold mine for fraudsters.”

Buggs said the con artists will use stolen identities to apply for credit cards, make major purchases and of course assume the victim’s identity to file taxes so they can steal their refund.

Data collected from the Federal Trade Commission shows the agency received almost 400,000 identity theft complaints last year, according to Identity Protection Services’ new report.

 “That (number) accounted for almost 14 percent of all ‘registered complaints’ in 2016,” according to the FTC.

Buggs said no company can guarantee identity security but there are precautions as well as theft assistance teams available to help you if your identity has been compromised.

“It’s not going away unfortunately,” she said. “The best thing consumers can do is arm themselves to protect themselves.”

Buggs said hers is one of several companies offering identity security protection.

For more information about her company and measures to prevent identity theft visit IRISONWATCH.COM.

About the Author:

News 6’s Emmy Award-winning Investigative Reporter Mike Holfeld has made Central Florida history with major investigations that have led to new policies, legislative proposals and even -- state and national laws. If you have an issue or story idea, call Mike's office at 407-521-1322.