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Identity theft vexing state tax return process

Local and state media have reported that cyber scammers are pilfering residents’ identities and using the theft to steal income tax returns. It’s happened in recent years all across the state, including right here in Superiorland.

In an effort to head off further thefts, the Michigan Department of Treasury is taking things to a new level: anyone who files a state income tax return may receive a letter via snailmail asking for additional information to confirm their identity.

After a taxpayer confirms his or her identity by taking a short online quiz or submitting paperwork, the tax refund will be issued, a department press release states. A phone option is available as an alternative to the online quiz.

“We are making progress in the fight against tax-related identity theft,” said Deputy State Treasurer Glenn White, who oversees Treasury’s Tax Administration programs. “If you receive one of these letters, please follow the instructions carefully. Your security is important to us. We take every measure we can to protect the taxpayer, including asking for additional information about your tax return.”

This is neither a new nor small problem. For example, in the past four years, the department’s increased security measures protected more than 5,000 taxpayers who confirmed their identity was stolen and used to request state of Michigan income tax refunds. This prevented more than $19.5 million from being distributed to scammers, a department press release states.

That’s a lot of people and a lot of money.

To learn more about identity theft, go to www.michigan.gov/identitytheft.

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