February 6, 2020
Today marks the start of Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week, which occurs annually during tax season and serves as an opportunity to learn how to avoid fraud, identify warning signs and protect yourself against government imposters.
Throughout the week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and its partners will co-host free webinars and other events sharing information and resources on this topic. Click here to learn more and to view a virtual event calendar for the week. Below are a few helpful hints adapted from FTC guidance:
What is Tax Identity Theft?
This occurs when someone uses your Social Security Number (SSN) to file a tax return on your behalf in order to collect your tax refund. Sometimes, you do not realize that this has occurred until you go to file your real tax return and are rejected by the IRS, due to the duplicate filing.
Who are IRS Imposters?
They are scammers pretending to be from the IRS who claim you owe taxes and threaten to arrest you if you do not pay them. Do not send money to anyone who makes this claim.
Are there any steps I can take to protect myself from tax identity theft throughout the year?
Do not share your SSN with anyone unless there is a good reason and you are positive that you know who you are sharing it with.
File your tax return as early as possible during tax season
If you file your tax return electronically, be sure to use a secure internet connection
If you mail your tax return, be sure to do so directly at the post office
If you are using a tax preparer to file your taxes, do your research before you start working with them
Check your credit report* at least once a year for free at annualcreditreport.com to ensure that no one has opened a new account in your name
> Personal information - ensure names and addresses are correct
> Accounts and negative information – be sure that you recognize these and that the information is correct
> Inquiries: be sure that you recognize the places you applied for credit
*A credit report is a summary of your credit history that lists your personal information, payment history on credit accounts and public records. Be sure to read your report carefully, while ensuring that the following information is correct.