Q: Why should I care about tax-related identity theft? I’m not a victim.
A: Tax-related identity theft is a growing problem that affects everyone — taxpayers, the U.S. government and, of course, victims themselves. The number of known incidents has increased more than twelvefold since 2008, according to a recent study from the U.S. Government Accountability Office. More than $5.2 billion of taxpayer money went to fraudsters who filed fake returns in 2011, the Wall Street Journal reported, and a watchdog agency claims that number is expected to reach $21 billion in the next five years. The costs are huge. And though you may not be personally affected yet, it could happen to you or someone you know.