It’s Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week. Do you know how to protect yourself?
Imagine these scenarios:
- You’ve finally finished your tax return and your e-file doesn’t go through because your return has already been filed. Huh? How did that happen?
- You get a letter from the IRS about a return that you didn’t file.
- You get an IRS notice that you received wages from an employer you never worked for.
If these things happen to you, you may be the victim of identity theft. Tax-related identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to file a return in order to collect your hard-earned refund.
Here are some tips on how to protect yourself from becoming a victim:
- Be very cautious about giving out personal information, especially your Social Security number. Don’t provide it unless you’re absolutely sure who you’re giving it to and why they need it.
- File your tax return as early in the season as possible.
- Always use a secure internet connection – that means avoiding public wifi when conducting confidential personal business.
- Check your credit report at least once a year for free through annualcreditreport.com to ensure no inaccurate information exists on your account (more on this in a future blog post).
How do I know if it’s the IRS calling?
Remember the IRS will never send you emails, texts, or contact you through social media asking for information. And they won’t call you with threats to bring in the police unless you pay by gift card or wire transfer. The IRS generally sends tax notices and requests for information through US mail. To learn more about whether it’s really the IRS, check out this page from the IRS website.
What if I’m the victim of identity theft?
If you believe your identity has been stolen, visit identitytheft.gov to report the theft and take steps to recover.
And for additional ways to protect yourself, check out the IRS Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft and the Federal Trade Commission’s page on Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week.