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The importance of protecting your identity during tax season

I wrote an article about this topic exactly one year ago and I have received numerous responses ever since from people who confirmed that they have also been victims of identity theft.  As some of you may recall, I mentioned in that article that my identity was stolen back in 2010 and I had no idea until I went to file my tax return in April 2011.  I remember my accountant calling me when she went to file my tax return and informing me that she could not because a tax return had already been filed under my social security number.  We both immediately knew that something was very wrong and later discovered that there was a fraudulent tax return filed under my social security number. Somehow, the thief obtained my social security number, produced a fake W2 form, entered a local H&R Block and filed a tax return. He then elected to get a refund on the spot and walked out with a thousand dollar cash refund before I, H&R Block or the IRS had any idea what had happened.  It was extremely upsetting to think that someone had access to my personal information and I was concerned about my credit cards, bank accounts, etc. I later learned that this was a very common occurrence.  In order to file a fraudulent tax return, the thief only needs your social security number.  Due to a lack of appropriate screening and security measures, this is a pretty easy scam to pull off.

What kind of an impact does this have on your ability to purchase or refinance your home mortgage? When you apply for any sort of mortgage loan, the bank or lender pulls a tax transcript (4506) from the IRS to verify that you filed your return and that your income verification is accurate.  If the tax transcript comes back with any discrepancies as a result of identity theft then this will obviously have to be corrected before your mortgage loan can be completed.  The good news is that we have recently discovered a way to overcome any delays regarding the mortgage process.  An identity theft victim who is in the process of obtaining a mortgage loan can now go into a local IRS office and have their actual tax return stamped and signed by an IRS agent.  That agent should also be able to provide them with a print out of their real tax transcript which a bank or lender should accept to complete the loan process.  There are still numerous steps that a person should take in order to address the issue of identity theft but at least there is a solution to obtaining a mortgage loan.  I have done numerous loans over the past two years, including a few for residents in Sunset Lakes, for clients who were victims of this type of identity theft. Fortunately, we were able to get all of their loans closed in a timely manner in spite of the issue. In addition, there are some safety guards you can put into place to prevent this from happening to you, such as Life Lock , which I personally subscribed to after my incident.  I encourage everyone to take the proper steps to protect their identity and make sure you protect your social security number and other personal information.  To learn more about our company and mortgage products, please feel free to call Dan Longman, President of Priority Lending Corp, at 954-438-3776 ext.11 or email me at prioritydan@bellsouth.net. Visit us online at www.prioritylendingcorp.com

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