State tax refunds could be delayed because of fraud

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DENVER -- Even if you’ve already filed your taxes, you might have to wait a lot longer than usual to get your refund because of tax fraud.

The state is expecting to get barraged with cases of fraud like it did last year. One of last year’s victims was Melissa Skovira. She had her identity stolen in 2015 while she was filing her taxes.

“I had just done it for the first time, put my Social Security number in and everything and they said ‘I’m sorry, it’s already been filed’ and so I went into freak-out mode,” Skovira said.

Skovira freaked out because not only did the thief try stealing her refund, but also tried taking out loans for a mortgage and car.

“At the time, I was 24 years old in college and I’m thinking, 'You picked the wrong person to steal their identity -- I didn’t have anything,” she joked.

The state won’t say how many people became victims, only saying it was a lot.

“[Tax thieves] spend a lot of time trying to figure out, ‘How can we get around things,’” said Ro Silva, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Revenue. “The criminals have gotten a lot smarter and more aggressive about taking the information they steal.”

Because of this, the state said if it suspects someone is trying to file your taxes without your permission and that person is trying to get the refund deposited in their bank account, the state will issue a written check and mail it to your home address.

“[People] might be surprised that [they asked for direct deposit, but got a paper check instead],” Silva said.

You won’t be notified ahead of time about the change and it could take up to 60 days to get the check. Also, while filing this year, some tax programs will ask for your Colorado driver's license number as an added security request.

“That’s another method that we are using to verify that that filer is the true filer and that it’s not a fraudulent return,” Silva said.

It might be annoying for some, but for Skovira, it’s better to be safe than stolen.

“I would do it hands down. I mean it took a long time for me to get my identity back. So I would answer any question they wanted,” she said.

Colorado state tax helpful links

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