4 Facts About Tax Identity Theft and How to Prevent It
Tax identity theft is when your social security number (SSN) has been used to file a fraudulent tax return. It can create stress and losses, and awareness of this threat can help prevent tax identity theft.
Here’s what you need to know about tax identity theft:
1. Scammers may contact you pretending to be the IRS.
The IRS will never attempt to contact you for unpaid taxes or to collect your information by phone first. Scammers will often use threatening phone calls claiming to be the IRS. Report any potential scam calls to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484.
2. Your mail may be how scammers steal your identity.
Employers, financial institutions, and nonprofits typically send mail this time of year with important documents for taxpayers, which creates an opportunity for tax identity theft. Check your mailbox daily while you’re waiting on these important documents.
3. Data breaches may have compromised your personal information.
If you fell victim to a data breach recently, that may have compromised your personal information. However, not every data breach results in identity theft. If you’re concerned about identity theft, contact the three major credit union bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion to ask about a free credit report or to place a security freeze on your credit score, which will temporarily prevent lenders from pulling your credit report.
4. Your identity can be stolen across any unsecured electronic platform.
If you keep sensitive information stored in your phone, including your bank account, credit card, and insurance information, make sure they’re password protected and unique from each other. Emails are another way scammers obtain information, typically pretending to be a family member or coworker asking for funds to be wired for an urgent reason. If you receive an email like this and you know the person’s name attached to the email, contact them directly first and verify the emergency.
Be proactive about protecting your identity.
· Keep your social security card and other sensitive information at home.
· Beware of potential scams and report any suspicious activity.
· Shred outdated financial documents.
· Check your mail daily.
If you think you’ve become a victim of tax identity theft:
Contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490 and fill out the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit, Form 14039.
Get an Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN)
An IP PIN is a six-digit number assigned to you in order to prevent the misuse of your Social Security number.
You may be eligible for an IP PIN; visit the IRS website for more information.