What is Tax-Related Identity Theft?
It’s when someone uses your stolen Social Security number to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund. You may be unaware that this has happened until you efile your return and discover that a return already has been filed using your SSN. Or, the IRS may send you a letter saying we have identified a suspicious return using your SSN.
Steps to Take If You Become a Victim
If you are a victim of identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission recommends these steps:
* File a complaint with the FTC at identitytheft.gov.
* Contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a ‘fraud alert’ on your credit records:
– Equifax, www.Equifax.com, 1-800-766-0008
– Experian, www.Experian.com, 1-888-397-3742
– TransUnion, www.TransUnion.com, 1-800-680-7289
* Contact your financial institutions, and close any financial or credit accounts opened without your permission or tampered with by identity thieves.
How to Reduce Your Risk
* Always use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections. Use strong passwords.
* Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, threatening calls and texts from thieves posing as legitimate organizations such as your bank, credit card companies and even the IRS.
* Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails.
* Protect your personal data. Don’t routinely carry your Social Security card, and make sure your tax records are secure.
The IRS does not call or initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. For more information, go to the www.irs.gov.