Tax season is upon us, and as you begin to receive your W-2’s in the mail, make sure that you know all the ways your tax information could be at risk. Avoid scams and protect yourself by reading up on these tips for keeping your information out of the hands of thieves.
What is tax identity theft?
If you receive a notice from the IRS that more than one tax returns were filed in your name, or that wages are being shown from an employer you don’t know, you have become a victim of tax identity theft. Thieves will get ahold of your Social Security number and use it to file your taxes or to get a job under your name.
Report tax identity theft: Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490.
What is an IRS imposter scam?
If you receive a phone call from the IRS requesting immediate payment of your taxes, you are being called by a scammer. The real IRS will rarely call anyone requesting money. They will instead send mail. In addition, the IRS will never request payment by phone via any method. These tricky scammers tend to threaten immediate arrest should you decide against paying them over the phone.
Report a scammer: Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA)at 800-366-4484.
File early. Shorten the window of time thieves have to steal your return by filing as early as you can. Always use a secure internet connection—or better yet—mail your tax return directly from the post office.
Screen your calls. The easiest way to avoid speaking directly with a scammer is to let unknown callers go to your voicemail. Scammers are getting smarter, which only makes answering unknown calls all the more scary. Avoid being trapped into a corner or saying the wrong thing to scammers, and just don’t pick up. When in doubt about a specific message from the so-called IRS, call the IRS directly and inquire about your standing.
Keep your information. Only give your SSN when absolutely necessary. Feel free to ask questions when asked for your SSN, like how it will be used and stored.