Tax season is here — and for some people, so is an experience with tax identity theft or IRS impostors. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said it received 109,063 complaints last year about tax-identity theft. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job. You usually find out something’s wrong after you file your tax return (one reason to file early).
Also, IRS imposters work year-round placing aggressive, threatening phone calls claiming you owe taxes. They might know all or part of your Social Security number, and can modify caller ID information to make it look like it really is the IRS calling.
Phone scams and email phishing schemes are among the “Dirty Dozen” tax scams the IRS highlighted on their website this year in a warning to taxpayers. You can protect yourself when you get a telephone call that sounds real or an email that looks authentic. Here’s how:
• Don’t give personal information over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you have initiated the contact or you are sure you know who you are dealing with.
• Don’t click on any links in emails that you’re not expecting.
• Don’t give a business your SSN or ITIN just because they ask. Give it only when required.
• Don’t carry your Social Security card or any documents with your SSN or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) on it.
• Protect your financial information.
• Check your credit report every 12 months.
• Secure personal information in your home.
• Protect your personal computers by using firewalls, anti-spam/virus software, update security patches and change passwords for Internet accounts.
If your tax records are not currently affected by identity theft, but you believe you may be at risk due to a lost or stolen purse or wallet, questionable credit card activity or credit report, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490, extension 245. Additional information about tax scams is available on IRS social media sites, including YouTube and Tumblr, where people can search “scam” to find all the scam-related posts.