Tax season is upon us, which could increase the chances we become a victim of fraud. Due to identity theft, phishing, data breaches and cybercriminals, last-minute filing of your taxes might bring a horrible surprise. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been fighting scams for years, and awareness is the first step to lessen the chances of tax ID theft from happening to you.
What is Tax ID Theft?
Identity thieves obtain sensitive information about you including your name, address, and personal tax identification number. They can either buy the information from criminal sources or trick you into giving it to them through phishing or phone scams. Then they use it to file a tax return using a false address or post office box and wait for the refund check to roll in.
File your tax returns as early as possible:
The best way to reduce your chance of becoming a victim of tax identity fraud is by filing early. Once your return is filed with the IRS, your Social Security number is logged into the IRS computer and cannot be used again by anyone else. When identity thieves try to file after you, their fraudulent return will be rejected instead of yours.
Steps to resolve tax-related identity theft:
- File a report with the Federal Trade Commission
- Contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit toll-free at 1 (800)-908-4490
- Request a fraud alert with Equifax, Experian or Transunion
- Close fraudulent accounts
- Complete an Identity Theft Affidavit
Being vigilant just takes a few extra minutes of your time but may save you many hours of frustration and headache trying to clear up a messy tax problem.