Tax Identity Theft and How to Prevent It

Tax Identity Theft and How to Prevent It

How secure are your tax returns?

Right now, millions of Americans are filing their taxes—and many of them are vulnerable to tax identity theft. This kind of fraud occurs when scammers file a fake tax return using your social security number. And to add insult to injury, they claim your refund!

Fortunately, tax ID theft is highly preventable. Just make sure you take these precautions:

File as early as possible

If you haven’t filed yet, there’s no time like the present! The sooner you submit your information to the IRS, the harder it is for fraudsters to impersonate you. Make sure you collect the refund you deserve.

File over a secure Internet connection

Free public Wi-Fi can be a great way to save data, but it also poses a security threat because it’s open to everyone. Never use it when transmitting personal info such as your social security number or bank account information. In other words, if you’re e-filing, make sure you do it over a secure, closed network.

Beware fake IRS correspondence

The Federal Trade Commission recently reported a spike in IRS imposters last year. These people harassed filers on the phone, claiming they could be arrested unless they paid taxes they supposedly owed.

The IRS’s first contact with you will ALWAYS be by mail. Ignore any angry calls, texts or emails you get purporting to be from the government demanding payments.  If you get an official-looking letter, call the IRS to confirm it is legitimate.  Don't call the number on the letter, though - it could be fake.  Instead, go to www.IRS.gov to find a real number.

Finally, if you think you might be a victim of identity theft, you can check your credit report annually for free, and look for suspicious activity.

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