IRS warns that tax refund identity theft is expected to be a major problem this year
Tax forms from employers and banks are in the mail and identity thieves will be doing what they can to cash in, fraudulently, on Uncle Sam.
This year’s tax season has started off with an important warning from the Internal Revenue Service. Tax refund identity theft is expected to be a major problem this year, but there are several things you can do to keep your identity, and your refund, safe.
All taxpayers are encouraged to take steps to protect themselves. Tax scams come in every form from phone calls to fraudulent emails. The IRS said the most commons scam are phone calls with people impersonating an IRS agent asking for personal information and email purportedly from the IRS asking the same. The IRS never directly contacts taxpayers or asks for personal identification numbers (PINs), passwords or similar confidential information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts.
Don’t give out personal information over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you are sure who the recipient is.
To avoid becoming a tax refund victim, never give out your financial information to any tax preparers without completely checking them out.
Try not to carry around your Social Security card or any documents that include your Social Security number. Never give out your date of birth or Social Security number anyone unless you know how it will be used and protected.
Consider filing early so if your tax identity has been stolen, you can alert the IRS as soon as possible.
Protect information on your computer by using firewalls and anti-spam/virus software. Also keep security patches updated and occasionally change the passwords for your internet accounts.
Be cautious when choosing a tax preparer. Even if someone else prepares your return, you are ultimately responsible for all the information on the tax return.