Tax time is in full swing, which means scammers are ready to steal your tax information and your refund, this is also known as tax identity theft. Tax 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. Most likely, you will not be aware it’s happened until you receive a letter from the IRS stating they have more than one tax return 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 out more about tax identity theft at ftc.gov/taxidtheft and irs.gov/identitytheft.
To lessen the chance of becoming a victim, consider the following tips:
- 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 unsecure, 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 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 com to make sure no other accounts have been opened in your name.
- Go to identitytheft.gov for a wealth of information and resources to help you restore your identity.