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Top Tips Every Taxpayer Should Know About Identity Theft

Identity theft is an on-going issue that typically occurs externally of the tax administration system and attacks someone's personal information that has been either lost or stolen. Once the identity is taken, the identity thief will use that victim's information to falsely file a tax return or obtain a job. Unfortunately, the tax payer victim may not be aware of this thievery until they file taxes and realize one has already been filed under their Social Security number.

To promote awareness and help prevent identity theft, the IRS has submitted 13 of the top areas one should be cautious of. These 13 areas are as followed:

  1. The IRS does not communicate through e-mail insinuating about a tax payer's personal or financial information. The IRS also does not send emails regarding a refund or auditing purposes.
  2. If a scam e-mail is received allegedly from the IRS, it should be forwarded to phishing@irs.gov.
  3. Personal information obtained by identity thieves are done so by:
    1. Stealing a wallet purse
    2. Pretending to be someone that needs your information through a phone call or e-mail.
    3. Scourging through a person's trash to find any documentation containing personal information.
    4. Acquiring information through an unsecured website provided by the victim.
  4. Any website posing to be the IRS that does not begin with ‘www.irs.gov,' should be forwarded to phishing@irs.gov.
  5. To access if a website is secure, visit the Federal Trade Commission at www.onguardonline.gov/tools/recognize-secure-site-using-ssl.aspx.
  6. In the event that your Social Security number is taken, the thief may obtain employment with it. If this occurs, the employer may file income they earned through your Social Security, which would make it appear that you did not file all of your income for that tax year. Immediately after knowing this, you should contact the IRS. Once the IRS is notified, you will need to provide extensive documentation legitimizing your statement. This process will help prevent further incidents.
  7. If you receive a letter from the IRS indicative of having more then one tax return filed with your Social Security number or you received income from an unknown employer, your identity may have been stolen. Upon receiving this letter it is imperative that you get in touch, at once, using the contact information provided in this IRS letter.
  8. Although your tax records may not indicate a stolen identity, if you are concerned that your security might be compromised (e.g. due to a lost wallet, suspicious credit card activity or report), you should contact the IRS and provide them with proof of your identity. To validate your identity, you must submit to the IRS a copy of your valid government issued identification, such as your Social Security card, driver's license or passport. Added to this report should be a copy of a police report and/or a completed IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, which should be faxed to the IRS at 978-684-4542. Another method of contacting the IRS can be done by calling the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit, toll-free at 800-908-4490.  Also, you should follow www.ftc.gov/idtheft for provisions on reporting identity theft.
  9. A Social Security card or any documentation providing that information should not be carried regularly. A Social Security number should be shown to an employer or financial institution from the beginning for tax purposes only.
  10. Further information on identity theft, how to report identity theft, phishing or any other deceptive activity, can be found on the IRS Identity Theft and Your Tax Records Page. You can find this by searching "Identity Theft" on the IRS.gov home page.
  11. Fraudulent schemes are abundant during the tax season and take on many forms. The most common forms of phishing are, contact from the supposed IRS using e-mail, phone, websites, social media and even fax. If you receive an e-mail or letter from the IRS that is suspicious, contact the IRS at http://www.irs.gov/contact/index.html. If it is not a scam and the IRS needs a response, please do so. Notices that are scams should be reported to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484. Or, the document can be faxed to TIGTA at 1-202-927-7018. This is not a toll-free fax number.
  12. To protect your information online or with any accountant, make sure to use an obscure password and inquire of your accountant as to what safety precautions they take. If filling electronically, once completed, save the information on a CD or flash drive and delete it from your hard drive.
  13. If you are a victim of identity theft and have any information on your thief, you can report it online with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at www.ic3.gov. The IC3 expedites filing of the complaint and also alerts authorities of suspicious criminal or civil activity that are within that jurisdiction.

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