Tax Day is One Month Away - Do you Know How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft?
Did you know that fraudsters only need your name and Social Security Number to file a fake tax return? Tax-related scams and identity theft have spiked in the past year – with the number of IRS investigations up 66 percent. Even as the IRS ramps up its efforts to combat fraud in 2014, you must play a part in taking steps to protect yourself. Here are some vital tips that you can use to recognize phony claims and beat identity theft.
- Store and protect your personal and financial information, such as your Social Security Number (SSN) or your Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). Do not carry sensitive information with you daily.
- Never provide financial or other personal information over the phone or in an email, unless you initiate contact and know exactly who is receiving the information.
- The IRS will contact you via mail if they need any information. They will never contact you by email, social media, or text. Beware of IRS email scams.
- File your tax return early – filing sooner gives identity thieves less time to file tax returns using stolen SSNs.
- Protect your computer by installing firewalls and changing your Internet passwords regularly.
- Do not use an open, unprotected Wi-Fi connection to file your tax returns online.
- Check your credit report every 12 months through a major credit union like Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion.
- Know and trust your tax return preparer.
- Never sign a blank tax return.
- If the IRS sends you a notice that states –
- You already filed your return but actually didn’t.
- You received more wages than your W2 says you earned in 2013.
- Your federal or state benefits changed even though an adjustment never occurred.
- If you are expecting a tax refund or other information after filing your tax return and you do not receive any information in the mail from the IRS.
- If you have questions about a notice you received from the IRS, immediately call the IRS Correspondence Hotline at 800-829-1040 or click here.
If you believe you’ve been a victim of identity theft, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit for assistance at 800-908-4490, extension 245 as soon as possible.
To learn more about how you can protect yourself, click here.