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Protecting Yourself from Tax-Related Identity Theft

Posted by Admin Posted on Dec 09 2015

The weeks surrounding the holidays always show a spike in identity theft and stolen financial information. This is often due to the increase in online spending at this time of year; however, shortly after the holidays have passed, identity thieves and scammers often turn to tax-related scams to gain access to Social Security numbers and other vital information.

At The Jones CPA Group, we want all of our clients to know how to protect themselves from tax-related identity theft so that they can be prepared for the coming tax season. Here are some important tips and other information that you can use to protect yourself.

Don’t Fall for Scams

Many instances of identity theft begin with a simple email or telephone scam. It is important that you know how to identify a scam when you see one so that you don’t fall prey to them. Here are a few of the more common scams that identity thieves use to take advantage of unsuspecting individuals:

  • Email scams: First and foremost, you should be aware that the IRS will never initiate contact with a taxpayer via email or social media. If you receive any kind of electronic contact from the IRS that is requesting information from you, you should report it to the IRS by forwarding it to phishing@irs.gov and immediately delete the email.
  • Threatening phone calls: Identity thieves will often call potential victims and impersonate an IRS agent. They will threaten the person with arrest or deportation if they fail to pay a specified amount immediately. They may even call claiming that they wish to send you a refund, but that you need to first supply certain personal information. These calls are scams, and you should never give them any information or send them any payments.
  • Fake websites: Some scammers set up websites that look like legitimate IRS websites, but which are designed to steal your personal information. If you find a site that claims to be the IRS but doesn’t begin with www.irs.gov, report it to the email listed above.

 

Protect Your Information

Sometimes, your personal information can become compromised without you being the victim of an obvious scam, and without you even realizing it. One common tactic thieves use is to file a false tax return with your information early on in the tax season. You may not even realize that your information has been compromised until you try to file a return, and the IRS informs you that your Social Security number has already been used to file a return that year.

Your Social Security number and other personal identifying information can be compromised in a number of ways. To reduce your odds of being a victim to identity theft, follow these tips:

  • Don’t carry your Social Security card or any card that displays your Social Security number. Keep these in a safe, secure location that is not easily accessed by thieves.
  • Be hesitant to share your Social Security number. You should only do so when it is absolutely necessary, and you know you are giving it to a trustworthy source.
  • Take steps to protect your financial information both at home and when on the computer.
  • Check your credit report every year to ensure there is no unauthorized financial activity in your name.
  • Use firewalls and anti-virus software on your personal computers. Keep these security systems updated regularly.
  • Change passwords for online accounts frequently, and use a different password for every account.

Sometimes, you will take every measure possible to prevent identity theft, and it will still occur. If you fall victim to tax-related identity theft, take the correct steps to stop the activity and minimize the impact on your life. You should immediately respond to any notices from the IRS by calling the number provided. You will also need to fill out an Identity Theft Affidavit from the IRS (Form 14039) and send it in following the instructions provided. Doing so will help to correct the issue as quickly as possible.

If you have more questions about tax-related identity theft, or you want to ensure that your taxes are filed in a safe, secure manner that minimizes your risk, then contact The Jones CPA Group in Orem. Our tax professionals will be able to provide you with the information you’re looking for.

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