Tax ID Theft is the most common form of identity theft reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for the past five years. The FTC and its partners announced they are hosting a Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week from January 29th to February 2, 2018. They will be hosting a series of free events, including webinars and Twitter chats.
Tax ID theft occurs when someone uses your stolen Social Security number to file a fraudulent tax return in order to claim a fraudulent refund.
There has been 1293 data breaches as of 12/20/17. These data breaches provide hackers with a slew of sensitive information. The Equifax breach alone exposed the names, addresses, social security numbers and birthdates of 145.5 million records. Criminals will attempt to file fraudulent tax returns using this stolen information. The big refunds that are claimed on these fraudulent returns are either sent to phony addresses or deposited into bogus bank accounts controlled by these criminals.
The best thing you can do to protect yourself from Tax ID Theft is to file your return as early as possible to make sure your return is filed prior to that of an identity thief. That way, you beat a would-be criminal from filing a return before you do.
PREVENTION TIPS TO AVOID TAX ID THEFT
- Know your Tax Preparer – check their credentials on the IRS website
- Beware of Preparers promising big refunds or base their fee on your refund
- If you cannot file early, then file an extension using IRS Form 4868
- Never carry your social security card or any document with your SSN on it
- If mailing your return, be sure to mail it directly from the Post Office
- If E-Filing your return, use a reputable program and a secure non-public computer
- If you move, file a Change of Address as soon as possible – Use IRS Form-8822
- Store copies of your returns in a secure place or save it on an external hard drive
- Shred drafts, tax forms and all documents that contain any sensitive information
- NEVER respond to calls, texts or emails appearing to be from the IRS. Don’t respond to threats or arrest. The IRS always initiates contact with you via a letter, sent by snail mail.
If you do become a victim of tax ID theft, file a police report immediately. Then, file a “paper” return with the IRS with an attached Form 14039 Identity Theft Affidavit together with a copy of the police report. This will hasten the process. You should also call the IRS specialized assistant toll-free number 800-908-4490. You can visit the IRS website for more info here: www.irs.gov/Individuals/Identity-Protection
To find out how to lessen your risk of becoming a Tax ID Theft victim during the FTC’s Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week – go here: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0029-tax-identity-theft-awareness-week