Tax Identity Theft Awareness
It’s tax season, and tax identity thieves and IRS imposters are already targeting victims.
Here are a few helpful ways to protect yourself, and what to do if you fall victim of tax identity theft.
What is tax identity theft?
Tax identity theft occurs when someone uses your stolen Social Security number (SSN) to file a false tax return claiming a fraudulent refund. Victims of tax identity theft may be unaware that this happened until they file their return and discover a return has already been filed using their SSN. Or, the IRS may send you a letter stating they have identified a suspicious return using your SSN.
What are IRS imposters?
IRS imposters are the scammers who pretend they’re calling from the IRS. They claim you owe taxes and intimidate you into paying money. These criminals will use a variety of ploys to extort money from victims by using fake names, false IRS badge numbers, and even recite the victim’s mailing address or last for digits of their SSN. In many cases it can be difficult to detect these fraudsters, as they use spoofing technology to hide the origin of their calls making it appear they are calling from a legitimate source on the victim’s caller ID.
How to reduce your risk of tax identity theft
- Always use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections. Promptly install security-relevant software updates to continue to be protected.
- Use a secure internet connection if you file electronically, or mail your tax return from the post office.
- Use strong passwords. A strong password has a minimum of 12 characters, and should have a mix of different types of characters that include numbers, symbols, upper and lower-case letters.
- 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.
MCCU will NEVER contact you by email, text message, or phone call, and ask for your account number or other personal information (i.e.: PINs or passwords). If you receive this type of contact, do not respond to it. Call or contact us directly.
- Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails. Always delete suspicious email immediately.
- Protect your personal information and that of any dependents. Don’t routinely carry Social Security cards, and make sure your tax records are secure.
- File your return as early in the tax season as you can.
What to do if you fall victim of tax identity theft
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:
- Contact your financial institutions, and close any financial or credit accounts opened without your permission or tampered with by identity thieves.
If your SSN is compromised and you know or suspect you are a victim of tax-related identity theft, the IRS recommends these additional steps:
- Respond immediately to any IRS notice; call the number provided.
- Complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, if your efiled return rejects because of a duplicate filing under your SSN or you are instructed to do so. Use a fillable form at IRS.gov, print, then attach the form to your return and mail according to instructions.
If you previously contacted the IRS and did not have a resolution, contact the IRS for specialized assistance at 1-800-908-4490.