As we creep closer to the tax deadline, there’s been more discussion about tax identity theft as fraud has been on the rise in recent years.
The 2022 Annual Report of the Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Information Sharing Mission and Analysis Center (ISAC) showed an increase in suspicious activity from two million reports in 2021 to over eight million reports in 2022.
What is Tax Identity Theft?
Tax identity theft is when someone uses your stolen personal information, including your Social Security number, to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund.
How to Protect Yourself from Tax Identity Theft
Taking steps to protect your personal information can help you avoid tax identity theft. Here’s what you can do to stay ahead of fraudsters.
- Protect documents that have personal information. Make sure you keep documents like your Social Security card and previous year’s tax records in a safe place. And when you do decide to get rid of your records, shred them.
- Protect your information from scammers online. If you use tax preparation software like TurboTax, TaxAct or TaxSlayer, utilize the multi-factor authentication feature — which makes it harder for scammers to log in to your accounts if they do obtain your username and password.
- Protect yourself from scammers on your phone. Never give your personal information to someone who calls, emails or texts and says they’re with the IRS. More than likely, if you did not initiate the contact, it is a scammer impersonating the IRS to steal your information or money. Instead, if you need to contact the IRS, call them at 1-800-829-1040.
- Lock up your mailbox. Getting a locking mailbox can prevent someone from checking to see what mail you’ve received. Since letters may contain private financial information, a locking mailbox can also help to prevent identity theft.
Related: How to Create Super Secure Passwords
What to Do If Someone Steals Your Tax Refund
If someone does steal your Social Security number to file for a tax refund before you do, you’ll usually find out when you go to file your return with the IRS.
If you file by mail, the IRS will mail you a letter explaining that they received more than one return in your name. From that point, you should follow the instructions set out in the letter.
If you try to submit your tax return online or through a tax preparer, the IRS will reject your tax return as a duplicate filing. If this happens, go to IdentityTheft.gov and report it. You can also get the Identity Theft Affidavit (IRA Form 14039) from irs.gov and submit it by mail.
Stay safe this tax season!
Related: How Should You Spend a Tax Refund?
Get instructions on how to enable our Flash News Briefing skill to your Amazon devices: