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LITTLE ROCK – Identity theft is a constant concern for Arkansans, but tax time brings additional anxiety over protecting personal information. Tax refund fraud occurs when a Social Security number is stolen and used to file a tax return and the resulting refund is claimed by the thief. Unfortunately, many people are unaware that this fraud has occurred until they attempt to file their own taxes and discover that a return has already been filed using their Social Security number.

“Tax-related fraud is the most common form of identity theft,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “As we begin the process to file taxes, Arkansans must remain vigilant in protecting personal financial information to try to avoid falling victim to this type of scam.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following steps to take if you fall victim to tax refund fraud:

  • File a fraud alertwith one of the three national credit bureaus. The selected credit bureau is required to contact the other two bureaus, which will result in a fraud alert with all three bureaus. Once a fraud alert has been placed, if an application for credit is filed in your name and the prospective creditor checks your credit report, the prospective creditor will be alerted to the possibility of identity theft.
  • File an identity theft report with a local law enforcement agency.
  • Close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Contact the company involved to dispute fraudulent transactions or accounts. Ask the company whether a fraud affidavit is required.
  • File an identity theft complaintwith the Federal Trade Commission or call (877) IDTHEFT (438-4338).
  • Consider placing a security freezeon your credit report. A security freeze is designed to restrict access to your credit report and help prevent additional instances of identity theft.
  • Consider requesting an Identity Theft Passportprovided by the Attorney General’s office.
  • Respond immediately to any IRS notification.
  • Continue to pay taxes and file tax returns, even if it must be done by paper.

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