Victims of tax fraud could lose coronavirus stimulus check to same crooks

Better Call Behnken

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Identity fraud victims could end up missing out on their stimulus checks if they don’t alert the IRS in time.

That’s because the government is using banking and contact information on your last tax refund to make sure you get your stimulus money. If the IRS has the crook’s information listed for you, that’s where the money could go.

“I’m really worried and really need this money,” said Brittany Starling.

Starling, who works as a bartender and server at a Lakeland country club, is terrified that could happen to her. When she tried to file her taxes online recently, she learned that someone else had already filed in her name and collected her more than $1,000 tax refund.

“Now, this person could take my stimulus money, too,” she said. “I’m furious.”

Starling is still working, relying on takeout and deliveries, but her income has been drastically cut and she needs the stimulus money to pay bills.

Starling tried to call the IRS and couldn’t get though. So, she knew she’d Better Call Behnken.

8 On Your Side Investigative reporter Shannon Behnken contacted the IRS, FBI, Florida Attorney General’s Office and several members of Congress, on Starling’s behalf, to make sure they have the right contact information for Starling.

Here’s what you need to know: If you discover someone has filed taxes in your name, you need to alert the IRS right away, file a police report and alert credit bureaus. If you don’t get confirmation from the IRS, you can also contact a representative from Congress in your area. They should be able to get in touch with the IRS.

Meanwhile, contact the Treasury Inspector General or Tax Administration at TIGTA.gov or 1(800) 366-4484. You can also file fraud reports at phishing@irs.gov.

U.S. Representative Kathy Castor sent this statement about stimulus fraud:

“It is horrendous that criminals are taking advantage of our vulnerable neighbors during this crisis. My office is here to help anyone who may be a victim of tax fraud or identity theft.  I have championed bipartisan measures to expand fraud investigations and strengthen responses for victims, but more needs to be done as fraudsters find new ways to steal tax refunds and emergency aid.  For anyone who is thinking about stealing emergency cash assistance: you will be caught and prosecuted.”

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