Tax season is bad enough, without the fear of identity theft. Even worse, it’s a favorite time of year for identity thieves because you and millions of other Americans will send confidential information over the Internet, via fax and by mail – including W-2s, 1099 forms and a slew of other forms containing sensitive data.
In 2021, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) identified over $10 billion in tax and other fraud. Thieves are not just looking to steal your name, social security number, or other personal information, they also target children’s social security numbers.
Don’t leave yourself vulnerable to identity theft during tax season. Follow these crucial steps to protect yourself, your family, assets and credit.
File your taxes early. Most people don’t know they (or their children) are victims of tax identity theft until their returns are rejected for using duplicate/previously filed information. Fraudsters file early to beat legitimate taxpayers to the punch, and it can go undetected for months.
Never send sensitive information via email or text. IRS scammers often mask themselves with emails or caller ID that looks legitimate and request personal information. Don’t be fooled. The IRS is extremely unlikely to initiate contact with taxpayers using these channels. It prefers to “snail mail” instead.
Confirm any requests for information with a phone call. Although a notice in the mail may seem legitimate, it’s relatively easy for fraudsters to set up phony direct mail campaigns and victimize consumers. Always confirm any request by calling the IRS toll-free number: (800) 829-1040.
Choose a trusted and reliable tax preparer. If you or your tax preparer file online, make sure it’s through a secure connection.
Hand-deliver or securely ship documents to your accountant. Make sure your tax documents, especially documentation containing your social security number(s), get into the right hands. Use Certified Mail or Signature Required to confirm the delivery to your intended destination.
Fill out and submit an IRS Identity Theft Affidavit. IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, is on the IRS website and should be filled out if you try to e-file your taxes and they get rejected due to a duplicate filing. Fill it out, print it, attach the form to your paper return and mail everything to the IRS.
Also: Check your credit report at least once a year.
Source: Identity Force