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
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. 403 – Make It a Season of Unhappy Returns for Tax ID Thieves.