Insurance Professional Navigates Tax Fraud Nightmare
Tax fraud happens all the time. And without the right resources at your back, it can be a nightmare. Just ask Melissa Richardson.
When Richardson efiled her 2013 tax return through a popular online service, she received an “already filed” message and was confused. “I thought there is no way anybody would steal my identity. I’m just a normal middle-class person and you think that would happen to people with a lot of money and assets,” explains Richardson. Unfortunately, she was wrong. Identity thieves focus on personal information, not income.
Richardson’s first response was a logical one: call the IRS and straighten it out. But she quickly realized she was going to be caught in a growing web of red tape. “I probably spent 10 to 15 hours on the phone trying to get through to the IRS to understand what to do,” she says. Even after following directions, she wasn’t getting responses after more than 60 days, and her $1,100 Federal refund still wasn’t on the radar.
Fortunately, Richardson remembered that she had a free CyberScout policy through her employer, so she contacted CyberScout for help.
Richardson found the very first call to be a relief. “With the IRS, I kept getting conflicting answers, depending on who I talked to. But my CyberScout fraud investigator, Juli Kennedy, knew exactly what to do,” says Richardson. Kennedy immediately took steps to secure Richardson’s identity and credit by:
• Calling the three major credit bureaus to place fraud alerts on Richardson’s credit files.
• Clarifying how to handle the process with the IRS and explaining the importance of keeping copies of everything she sent to them. “I was so upset about the situation, I hadn’t even thought about a lot of this stuff,” says Richardson.
Richardson says that having an advocate on her side made a huge difference in the end, “Juli would just call to see how things were going and let me vent. It saved me a lot of time instead of trying to figure things out myself,” explains Richardson.
In the end, Richardson received her federal tax refund in less than a year after detecting the fraud, which is faster than average. As to what actually happened, Richardson still doesn’t have a clear picture.
“The IRS would only tell me that someone from Miami used my maiden name, Social Security number and an old address, along with some made-up information, to get a tax refund,” Richardson explains. “It’s sad it happened, but it was great to have CyberScout there for me throughout this scary process. It could have been a lot worse.”