This week, January 28 through February 2, is Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week.
This is a campaign organized by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to spread awareness on IRS imposter scams and identity theft, with relation to taxes. This remains one of the top scams listed on the IRS “Dirty Dozen” list.
What exactly is Tax Identity Theft? Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your stolen Social Security number (SSN) to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund. If you become a victim, we are committed to resolving your case as quickly as possible.
- More than one tax return was filed for you.
- IRS records indicate you received wages or other income from an employer for whom you did not work.
- You owe additional tax, have a refund offset or have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return
You may be unaware that this has happened until you e-file your return and discover that a return already has been filed using your SSN. Or, the IRS may send you a letter saying it has identified a suspicious return using your SSN.
Here are some ways to protect yourself, your information, and your tax return:
- Keep your personal data confidential. Don’t routinely carry your Social Security card, and make sure your tax records are secure.
- Always use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections. Use strong passwords.
- File your tax return as early as possible.
- Monitor your credit report to verify there is no unauthorized activity.
- Use a secure internet connection to file electronically, or mail your tax return directly at the post office.
- Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, threatening calls and texts from thieves posing as legitimate organizations such as your bank, credit card companies and even the IRS.
- The IRS will only contact you by mail.
- Never respond to emails, texts, or social media communications claiming to be from the IRS.
- Never provide personal information to anyone purporting to be an IRS representative who contacts you via an unsolicited telephone call.
- The IRS will never call demanding immediate payment of taxes owed or a specific method of payment, such as a prepaid debit card, gift card, or wire transfer.
- Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails.
If your SSN is compromised and you know or suspect you are a victim of tax-related identity theft, the IRS has steps to help. You can read about what to do on their website here.