How to avoid becoming a victim of tax-related identity theft

Posted at 5:48 AM, Feb 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-02 05:48:59-05

Tax season is officially underway and W2s are now making their way to people’s mailboxes.

But before you get a chance to file your taxes, someone else may try to file for you.

Tax-related identity theft is an ongoing problem.

It’s when someone uses your social security number to file a tax return and then steals the refund or they use your number for their job.

As part of tax identity theft awareness week, we have some tips from the IRS to help you out.

Warnings signs:

  • more than one tax return was filed using your SSN
  • you owe additional tax, refund offset or have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return
  • IRS records show that you received wages or other income from an employer for whom you did not work.

Reduce your risk:

  • use security software and strong passwords
  • watch out for phishing emails from thieves posing as your bank or the IRS trying to get your personal information
  • be wary about clicking on links in emails from people you don’t know
  • do not routinely carry your social security card with you

If you become a victim:

  • continue to pay your taxes and file your tax return, even if you must do so by paper
  • contact the IRS immediately – IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit 1-800-908-4490
  • file a complaint with the FTC
  • contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a ‘fraud alert’ on your credit records
  • contact your financial institutions and close any financial or credit accounts that have been tampered with or opened without your permission

You can find more information about tax-related identity theft on the IRS website.