It’s that time of year again and identify theft is a major concern for taxpayers. Recognized by the Federal Trade Commission as Tax Identify Theft Awareness Week, we figured it was a great opportunity to hit on IRS scams. In recent attempts, scammers start by stealing your social security number then fraudulently file a tax return in your name. They request a large refund payout from the IRS, run off with your hard-earned cash and leave you to clean up the mess. Often times, victims don’t learn about the scam until they find out that more than one tax return has been filed in their name or they see submitted wages from an unknown employer.
So what can you do as a taxpayer to protect yourself from being victimized? Most importantly, keep your social security number protected and understand that the IRS will never contact you by email, text or social media message to request your personal information. Second, don’t wait until the last minute to file your tax return. Thieves won’t be able to steal your refund if you’ve already filed it yourself! Finally, keep an eye out for letters from the IRS during tax season. If someone steals your identity and files a duplicate tax return, the agency will send you a letter to report the problem.
If you think you may be a victim of tax identity theft, contact the IRS immediately to report the fraud. The IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit can be called directly at 1-800-908-4490. You can also file a complaint with the FTC by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP or visiting their website.