Tax ID theft: ‘Watch your bank accounts’

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — More than 600,000 Americans were victims of tax ID fraud as of September 2015 and the IRS paid out $5.8 billion in fraudulent tax returns in 2013.

With just a week left before tax day, Senator Jeff Merkley is taking action against tax identity theft. Merkley visited the Matt Dishman Community Center Friday to call on the IRS to increase its efforts against tax ID theft.

Merkley and Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota are teaming up in an attempt to get the IRS to do more about this growing problem.

Portlander Mark Ertle was the victim of the growing tax ID theft problem in 2014. Ironically, Ertle works in cyber security and says the best thing you can do is be aware.

“It’s like we tell customers in our business, you are going to get breached,” Ertle said. “The best thing to do is be aware, you have to check your credit, you have to look at your credit card statements, you have to watch your bank accounts, subscribe to the services that are out there monitoring.”

Other tips for protecting yourself are shredding documents, using a locked mailbox and software that protects against attacks online. Avoid email and phone scams — hang up on fake IRS callers. The IRS sends letters, it doesn’t call people.