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Identity theft victim told to claim crook’s phone charges on income taxes

Better Call Behnken

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – It started with a phone call last year. Tony Ferraro says Verizon Wireless told him they suspected fraud and that someone bought two phones in his name.

Ferraro says he has never been a Verizon Wireless customer, explained that to the person on the phone, and assumed they took care of the fraud issue.

But, things changed in December. Ferraro started receiving letters about a bill for the two phones. He wrote back, explaining this was fraud. Then came something he never expected: a 1099-c tax form for $2,399. Verizon wanted him to either pay, or file the amount for the phones as income on his taxes.

When Ferraro couldn’t get a response from Verizon about the fraud, he turned to Better Call Behnken for help, and 8 On Your Side Investigator Shannon Behnken reached out to Verizon Wireless.

“It’s almost like you’re guilty until you can prove you’re innocent,” Ferraro said.

A spokesman for Verizon promised to investigate questions from Better Call Behnken, and days later, there were results. Ferraro says Verizon called to say they are dismissing the case and will write letters to credit agencies so that this will not impact his credit report.

Keep in mind that as unusual as this may sound, companies can file a 1099-c, if the debt is actually yours. For example, if you work out a deal with a company to accept less for a debt, you may get a big surprise at tax time when you have to pay income taxes on the amount the company forgave.

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