Identity Theft and Taxes

Laura Joszt

Unfortunately, taxpayers looking forward to their refunds may find their money has been claimed by identity thieves. Identify potential scammers before you become a victim and take the right steps if you find out too late.

Refunds are the best part of paying taxes; however, taxpayers may find their refund has been claimed by identity thieves.

Filing taxes may be tiresome, but some identity thieves are willing to go through the process to claim your refund. Then when you file, the IRS will not accept it since as far as it is concerned a return was already filed using your name and Social Security number.

Even worse, this might be the first time you realize you are a victim of identity theft, according to the IRS.

Identity theft is common, unfortunately, so people should mostly be aware of the ways to prevent and deter identity thieves in everyday situations. There are also things you can do specific to your tax filing.

• IRS impersonators

They are out there, and you should know how to identify them. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email or social media. Anyone asking for personal or financial information or notifying you of an audit, refund or investigation through either of those channels should be considered suspicious.

Protect tax information

Protect your tax return with a strong password (avoid the 10 most commonly hacked passwords). Once you file, take the information off your computer and store it on a hard drive that you lock in a safe place.

If you’re not filing your own taxes, ask your tax preparer how he or she protects the information you give.

If the IRS tells you that you have already filed, that you owe taxes on a year when you did not file or that you received payment from an employer you never worked for, then you have been the victim of identity fraud. When the IRS informs you of any of those scenarios, call the number provided.

Lastly, if you know you could be at risk since you lost your wallet or are receiving notification of suspicious charges, then be proactive and call the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1 (800) 908-4490.

Read more identity protection tips from the IRS here.