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Tax Refund Fraud

Privacy Lawyer Reviewing Personal Data Theft Cases for plaintiffs Nationwide
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Identity Theft Claims

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has warned in recent years of an increase in tax refund fraud, impacting thousands of individual tax payers. Criminals can obtain personal information, such as an individual’s tax ID number or Social Security number, and file a tax return in hopes of receiving a refund.

The IRS has said that it does not send unsolicited email, text messages or use social media to discuss personal tax issues with an individual, and such communications should be treated as potential tax return fraud. Anyone who receives a telephone call from someone claiming to be an IRS employee and requests money should consult the IRS and report a potential tax refund scam.

One of the U.S. Justice Department’s priorities is prosecuting people who use stolen identities to steal money from the United States Treasury by utilizing types of tax scams and tax return fraud. Such tax scams have cost thousands of American taxpayers and the United States Treasury billions of dollars.

Most tax scams and tax refund fraud schemes steal the Social Security Numbers (SSN) and other personal identifying information of individuals and file false returns with the Internal Revenue Service. These criminal enterprises aim to exploit the general anonymity of automated systems. As it stands, most people prepare and file tax returns electronically, and automated systems at the IRS generate income tax refunds in the form of electronic payments.

Identity theft and tax scam crimes may steal Social Security Numbers from hospitals, nursing homes, and other vulnerable databases. Typically, tax refund fraud perpetrators file a false return electronically early in the tax filing season before legitimate taxpayers have time to file their returns.

Identity theft can be a traumatic experience for victims of tax fraud, personal data theft and security breaches that may result in stolen information and substantial financial losses. Advances in technology have made consumer activity very convenient, but now present serious security risks for anyone with an online presence.

Online scams, stolen bank and credit card statements can compromise delicate personal information. If anyone has stolen your personal or financial information or assumed your identity, contact an identity theft lawyer as soon as possible.

Joe Lyon is a Personal Data Breach Attorney and Identity Theft Lawyer representing victims of fraud, security breaches and identity theft nationwide.

Common Types of Identity Theft

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), approximately 17 million Americans were victims of identity theft last year. Identity theft can occur when a person uses your personal information without permission to commit fraud or make unlawful purchases. The most commonly stolen personal data includes:

The most common forms of identity theft include:

  • Financial theft: using someone else’s identity to obtain goods, services, or credit.
  • Cloning Identity: using someone’s identifying information to assume their identity in daily life.
  • Medical Identity theft: using a false identity to obtain prescriptions or medical care records.
  • Business Identity Theft: fraudulent individuals pose as owners or employees of a business to obtain cash, credit, or loans.

Criminals poach on the following:

  • Bank account numbers
  • Tax ID numbers
  • Business statements
  • Company credit card numbers

How to Prevent Tax Refund Fraud

To protect yourself against identity theft and tax refund fraud, you should follow careful Internet practice, which should include:

  • Creating unique passwords for each online bank and email account
  • Use trusted websites
  • Use updated antivirus programs
  • Limiting personal information on social media
  • Keep track of financial accounts

Common tactics and ways data theft and tax refund fraud is committed:

  • Criminals pose as a bank representatives and ask for banking information
  • Fraudsters pose as an insurance agents or corporate agencies to access personal information
  • Employees gain access to sensitive information to exploit it
  • Credit card fraud
  • Dumpster-diving in recycling or trash bins for financial info

Contact an Identity Theft Lawyer

Identity theft, tax return fraud and personal data misuse crimes can affect victims for months and years after the fact. It is important to contact an experienced security breach attorney and Identity theft lawyer to begin the process of recovering financial losses and to mitigate the damage of a company or individual reputation in the future.

photo of attorney Joe Lyon reviewing identity theft claims
A Voice for Those who have suffered

Why are fraud cases important?

Financial fraud and tax refund fraud incidents often result through no fault of the impacted party, yet the victim suffers from serious financial losses. Such losses can have devastating financial consequences on individuals and families if not properly compensated. Tort law allows those individuals to seek just legal recourse through data theft lawsuits.

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Questions about Identity Theft Cases

what is identity theft?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act defines identity theft as “fraud committed or attempted using the identifying information of another person without authority.” More specifically, identity theft can manifest itself in the following ways:


  • Medical Identity Theft: individuals may another person’s name and insurance information to receive medical care, prescription drugs and ring up huge medical bills. Medical information may also be stolen and sold to third parties.


  • Account Fraud: individuals use your good credit to open new credit card, bank, utility, and cell phone accounts. Criminals also take over existing accounts for their own gain.
  • Criminal Identity Theft: individuals may present your identification after committing a criminal act.
What Information can be used to steal my identity?
  • Social security numbers
  • Drivers license numbers
  • Bank account numbers
  • Health insurance numbers
  • Credit card & debit card numbers
  • Personal identification numbers
  • Electronic identification numbers
  • Passwords & Logins
  • Digital signatures
  • Passports
  • Birth certificates
  • Full-face photos
Can I file an Identity Theft Lawsuit?

Any kind of negligence by an individual or company that causes injury or harm can lead to filing a personal injury lawsuit. The amount a plaintiff is entitled to depends on several factors, particularly how egregious the act and how serious the injury.

Personal injury attorneys generally only will take cases on a confidential and contingency fee basis, which means your lawyer will only get paid if he or she is able to reach a settlement or positive verdict. The Lyon Firm will review your case for free and assess what compensation any plaintiff can expect through litigation.

Personal Injury cases can range from minor auto accidents to complex lawsuits filed against large corporations. The Lyon Firm has handled both with equal care. Severe injury requires legal action on occasion, no matter if the injury is the result of a vehicle accident, a dog bite, a boating accident, workplace injury, defective consumer products, medical malpractice, or toxic exposure.

Who Can I Sue in an Identity Theft Case?

Plaintiffs can file a lawsuit against an individual for stealing an identity, but hackers are often elusive, so it is often best to sue the company who failed to keep your data protected. Usually the targets of identity theft lawsuits are those you have trusted with your personal information. Lawsuits may be lodged against the following:

  • Banks & financial institutions
  • Creditors
  • Municipalities & other government entities
  • Employers
  • Hospitals & medical centers
  • Various online service providers

Data breach incidents are now the most common sources of data theft, but because there are numerous manners in which an identity can be stolen, lawyers will have to determine the specific liability in your case. Potential causes of action may include the following:

  • Security Negligence
  • Invasion of privacy
  • Publication of private information
  • Breach of fiduciary duty
  • Infliction of emotional distress
  • Breach of contract
What is the Process?

Pre-Suit Investigation and Negotiations: Personal injury lawsuits are unique and require a thorough investigation before a lawsuit is filed. An initial investigation involves gathering all relevant medical records, accident reports, and interviews with available witnesses.  Preservation letters are drafted to notify the defendant of the case. The duty to preserve electronic evidence is critical in most cases to prevent spoliation.

Filing a Lawsuit in Cincinnati: If pre-suit negotiations are unsuccessful, then a lawsuit must be filed to preserve the statute of limitations.  Filing a lawsuit early in the process is often necessary to begin gathering evidence while the witnesses memories are fresh and documents remain available.

Once suit is filed by your personal injury lawyer, the court will set a case management schedule and the parties will begin exchanging information in the formal process of discovery. Depositions will be taken to preserve testimony for trial and to understand what certain witnesses are likely to say at trial.

Proving Negligence, Causation and Damages: In addition to lay witness testimony and other documentary evidence, personal injury claims rely upon medical and scientific evidence to prove negligence, causation and damages. The chosen expert in a case must have a reliable and sound basis in science and in the facts of the case or his opinion may not be admissible under the rules of evidence.

In the areas of Toxic and Environmental Torts, the admission of expert testimony may be scrutinized harder than in other areas simply because the subject may not have been as widely tested and may rest on novel scientific theories.

How does someone steal my identity?

By far, the most common data theft is through online security breaches.  

Identity thieves either hack into a system or they buy personal data online on dark web forums. After they obtain the information, there are a number of ways they can do damage, including the following:

  • Criminals may spend a great deal of money on your account, and in turn they sell big items for profit.
  • Thieves open new credit card accounts, take out loans in your name, get a tax refund or apply for unemployment.


what are some signs of identity theft?
  • Unexplained card charges or bank withdrawals
  • Failing to receive a monthly bill
  • Receiving random credit cards you didn’t apply for
  • Being denied credit for nogood reason
What can I do after an identity theft incident?
  • First, move quickly to limit the damage
  • Contact your bank to change account number and get new cards
  • Obtain a recent Credit Reportfrom all three Credit Bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and Transunion)
  • File a Police Report
  • File a Complaint with the FTC
  • Place a Fraud Alert on your credit file
Are there any limits to what I can recover?

Each state will vary. Under Ohio law, an injured party may recover damages related to medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, loss of enjoyment of life, past pain and suffering, future pain and suffering, and punitive damages. The numerical limits are as such:

  1. Non-Catastrophic Injury:   The non-economic award is limited to $250,000 per plaintiff, or three times the economic loss, up to $350,000 per plaintiff. A maximum of $500,000 for each “occurrence.”
  2. Catastrophic Injury: No limits.

The Lyon Firm may be able to file injury claims and recover rightful compensation for clients for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost earnings and long-term disability.

Why should I hire The Lyon Firm?

Our Firm will help you find the answers you need following a data theft incident. The Firm has the experience, resources and dedication to take on difficult and emotional cases and help our clients obtain the justice for the wrong they have suffered. 

Experience: Joe Lyon is an experienced privacy lawyer. The Lyon Firm has 17 years of experience and success representing individuals and plaintiffs in all fifty states, and in a variety of complex civil litigation matters. Privacy lawsuits can be complex and require industry experts.  Mr. Lyon has worked with experts nationwide to assist individuals understand why an injury occurred and what can be done to improve their lives in the future. Some cases may go to a jury trial, though many others can be settled out of court.