As tax season begins and you look forward to getting your refund, so do identity thieves. Tax identity theft happens when you use your Social Security Number to get a job or a tax refund. Unfortunately, you might find out you’re a victim of tax identity theft when you go online to file a tax return and discover one has already been filed using your social security number. Other ways consumers discover tax ID theft is a letter from the IRS saying more than one return was filed under your name, or your IRS records show wages from an employer you don’t recognize.
How should consumers protect themselves from tax identity theft?
•Complete your refund as soon as possible. Scammers usually file fast to beat the real taxpayer to the refund. The sooner you file, the less likely a scammer will be successful.
•Pay attention to official communications and know the signs. Respond promptly to written notices from the IRS about duplicate returns or other written communications.
•Identify fake communications. The IRS always sends written communications first, so if you receive a call or email before an official letter, it’s probably from a scammer pretending to contact you about past due taxes. Always be cautious of anyone who threatens you, the IRS will never do that.
•Understand spam. If you receive an email from the IRS, do not reply to the sender or click on links or attachments included in the email.
•Protect your privacy. Online accessibility to shopping and banking also means increased accessibility to your personal information, so be sure to take extra precautions against data breaches.
•Employers should also exercise caution. The IRS encourages company payroll officials to double check any unusual or executive-level requests for employee’s personal information.
For more information on Tax Identity Theft, visit bbb.org.