New quiz launched to catch tax return ID thieves

Posted at 8:20 AM, Mar 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-10 08:27:57-05

It happened more than 80,000 times last year, almost costing taxpayers $100 million in tax returns.

People tried to steal other people's returns through fraud, but the Michigan Department of Treasury caught them.

This year, the department is trying to stop more identity theft by requiring some taxpayers to complete an identification confirmation quiz before they can get their return.

"We're always looking for ways to help tax payers," Jeremy Sampson of the department said. "Combating ID theft is certainly something that's become a lot more prevalent. So adding this test is just another layer of security, making sure that taxpayers are getting the refunds that they're owed."

The department will send out letters to people whose returns could be fraudulent, and ask them to complete a quick, online survey to confirm their identity.

"The process they would go through in order to take this ID confirmation quiz is really fairly painless," Sampson said. "It's a two or three, four question quiz, and it's done online."

But with so many scams going around, especially during tax season, some people shown a sample letter weren't sure they could tell the real one from a fake.

"I feel like I would have to read this a few times to process it. I'd be quite confused if I got this," Anthony Kuchera said.

"This looks kind of new to me so, I mean some people might think this is fake, some people might think it's real," MSU student Ty Wilson said. "But this hasn't been a thing before, so I don't know."

One thing that separates the state's letter from many scams, it'll come in the mail, not through email.

"I would have to read this a few times and then I still would be a little skeptical, but it does have the seal on it," Kuchera said.

The real letter also has the treasury seal, the Treasurer's and Governor's names, and it will come straight from the Department of Treasury.

If a taxpayer is selected for the identification verification quiz, his or her refund will be issued two to three weeks after he or she passes the quiz.

The deadline to file your individual income tax returns is April 18.