We all know that thieves are constantly looking for ways to take advantage of people by stealing what does not belong to them.
One creative way crooks discovered that they can steal a taxpayers financial information is by creatively invading their tax information. The FTC recognized this problem and decided to help bring awareness by making February 3-7, Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week. What an outstanding way to inform and engage the public about this growing crime. Informing the public of the many risks involved by not keeping tax information in a secured place is a risky venture.
Here is an example of how a tax scammer can take advantage of a tax payer. Through clever and sometimes deceitful tactics, a fraud artist can steal a taxpayer's information and other financial information. Once they have the taxpayer's information, they file a report with the IRS and claim a fraudulent refund. On many occasions, the only way the taxpayer finds out is when their IRS rejects their tax filing as a duplicate.
Another creative fraudulent tactic that the tax identity thieves perpetrate is pretending they are the IRS. The fraudster will call a taxpayer and claim they owe the IRS taxes and demand immediate payment. These high pressure, nerve racking calls are designed to strike fear into the minds of the taxpayer and on many occasions the imposter is able to extract significant sums of money by using these frightening tricks. Other times the scam artist convinces the taxpayer to pay past due taxes with a gift card or a prepaid debit card after threatening jail time.
The IRS recommends to remain alert for these signs of possible tax-related identity theft:
- Receiving a letter from the IRS about a tax return you did not file
- Receiving a tax transcript in the mail you did not request
- Receiving an IRS notice of an online account created in your name
- Receiving a notice that your account has been accessed when you did not take action
- The IRS indicates you received wages or income from a company you did not work for
The FTC recommends to start immediately protecting yourself by following these tips:
- Protect your social security number all the time. Never give your SSN to anyone unless you are absolutely sure who you are giving it to and there is a good reason.
- File your tax return early as possible in the tax season.
- If filing your tax return electronically, always use a secure connection. If using snail mail, use the U.S. Post Office to mail it.
- Always research your tax preparer before handing over personal tax and financial information.
- Check your credit report at least once a year to make sure no accounts have been opened up in your name without your authorization. You can check your report free of charge at annualcreditreport.com
If you suspect you have been a victim of identity theft, continue paying your taxes and fie your return, you should access IRS Identity Theft Central.