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How to Prevent Identity Theft When Filing Your Taxes

The IRS has joined forces with states and the tax industry to enact new safeguards that are designed to prevent identity theft when filing your taxes. Most of these safeguards are not noticeable to you as a taxpayer, but they are there, and invaluable in the fight against identity theft criminals. If you use tax software to prepare your own return, you will see new login standards as a start.

Don’t Become a Victim

Learn the best ways to protect yourself and prevent identity theft when filing your taxes with these three helpful tips.

What is Tax-related Identity Theft?

When someone steals your Social Security number and then uses it to file a tax return and claim a fraudulent refund, you have become a victim of tax-related identity theft. In most cases, victims are unaware that their identity and Social Security number has been stolen or used until they go to e-file their return, and find out that a return has already been filed using your SSN. In other cases, the IRS might send you a letter alerting you of a suspicious return by your SSN.

Reducing Your Risk

Protecting yourself against identity theft criminals can be done in a few different ways. It’s important that you use strong passwords, and only use security software that contains firewall and antivirus protection. Learn how to recognize threatening calls and texts from thieves posing as the IRS, your bank, or a credit card company. Never click on links, follow emails or download attachments from unknown senders, and be aware of phishing emails that look like a legitimate message from your bank or credit card company. It’s also important to know that the IRS does not contact taxpayers via email to request personal or financial information.

Know the Warning Signs

If you are contacted by the IRS (in the legitimate fashion of a phone call or mailed letter) it’s possible that your identity has been stolen and used for fraudulent tax claims. If the IRS or your tax professional contacts you about paying additional taxes, collection actions taken against you for not filing taxes, more than one tax return that was filed with your SSN, or alerting you that IRS records indicate wages received from a job where you were not employed, it’s important that you seek proper action to investigate your identity, and the status of your SSN in the IRS system.