As tax season approaches, the following tips and best practices will help you avoid tax-related identity theft and other scams:
- File your tax return as early as possible.
- Use a secure internet connection to file electronically, or mail your tax return directly at the post office.
- Never respond to emails, texts, or social media communications claiming to be from the IRS. The IRS will only contact you by mail. Report any suspicious or unsolicited emails claiming to be sent from the IRS to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Never provide personal information to anyone purporting to be an IRS representative who contacts you via an unsolicited telephone call. Instead record the caller’s name, badge number and a call back number. Hang up and then contact the IRS at 1-800-366-4484 to determine if the caller is an IRS employee with a legitimate need to contact you.
- Monitor your credit report to verify there is no unauthorized activity.
- Enroll in the IRS Identity Protection Pin (IP PIN) program to obtain a 6-digit pin.
In 2016, 34% of the identity theft complaints to the FTC involved taxes, employment or wages. There was a 22% increase in the number of complaints regarding IRS imposters – scam callers threatening to arrest or fine victims unless they are paid immediately for taxes they claim the victims owe. The IRS will never call demanding immediate payment of taxes owed or a specific method of payment, such as a prepaid debit card, gift card, or wire transfer.
For more information, try these resources:
The FTC: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0008-tax-related-identity-theft
The IRS: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p5027.pdf
Source: Cherry Hill, NJ Police Dept.