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Tax Scammers Might Target You: Here’s What to Do

It’s that time of year — tax time. It’s also a great time to get up to speed on tax-related scams. Here is one more way tax scammers might target you and what you can do about it:

Tax identity theft

This kind of identity theft happens when someone files a fake tax return using your personal information — like your Social Security number — to get a tax refund. Tax identity theft also happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a job. You find out about it when you get a letter from the IRS saying:

  • more than one tax return was filed in your name, or
  • IRS records show wages from an employer you don’t know

If you get a letter like this, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490. You can find more about tax identity theft at ftc.gov/taxidtheft and irs.gov/identitytheft.

So what can you do about it? To lessen the chance you’ll be a victim:

  • File your tax return early in the tax season, if you can, before identity thieves do.
  • Use a secure internet connection if you file electronically. Don’t use unsecured, publicly available Wi-Fi hotspots at places like coffee shops or a hotel lobby.
  • Mail your tax return directly from the post office.
  • Shred copies of your tax return, drafts, or calculation sheets you no longer need.
  • Respond to all mail from the IRS as soon as possible.
  • Know the IRS won’t contact you by telephone, email, text, or social media. If the IRS needs information, it will first contact you by mail.
  • Don’t give out your Social Security number (SSN) or Medicare number unless necessary. Ask why it’s needed, how it’s going to be used, and how it will be stored.
  • Get recommendations and research a tax preparer thoroughly before you hand over personal information.
  • If your SSN has been compromised, contact the IRS ID Theft Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490.
  • Check your credit report at least once a year for free at annualcreditreport.com to make sure no other accounts have been opened in your name.

Reprinted with permission. Source: United States Federal Trade Commission, www.ftc.gov – not subject to copyright protection. 17        U.S.C. 403Make It a Season of Unhappy Returns for Tax ID Thieves.

Learn more at Identity Theft Information for Taxpayers. To report a scam, go to the BBB Scam Tracker. To find trustworthy businesses, go to bbb.org.