Prevent Being a Victim of Tax Fraud by Alina Lopez
Tax season is upon us once again and as the saying goes, there are only two things certain in life, death and taxes. It’s only fitting then to review tax fraud prevention. Tax fraud is a serious but common occurrence where someone uses your stolen personal information, including social security number, to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund. According to the IRS, if you suspect that you are a victim of tax identity theft, continue to pay your taxes and file your tax return even if you must file a paper return.
You may not know that you’ve been a victim until you’re notified by the IRS of a possible issue with your return.
Some signs that you may have been a victim of tax fraud are:
- You receive a letter from the IRS of a possible issue with your return.
- You can’t e-file your tax return because of a duplicate Social Security number.
- You get a notice from the IRS that an online account has been accessed or disabled when you took no action.
- The IRS notifies you that you owe additional taxes or refund offset or have had collection actions taken against you for a year in which you didn’t file a tax return.
- IRS records indicate you received wages or other income from an employer you didn’t work for.
To protect yourself from becoming a victim of tax fraud, follow these guidelines from the IRS:
- File your returns as early as possible.
- Protect your personal information. Never provide personal or confidential information to an unverified source.
- Choose a tax preparer that you trust.
- Be aware of scams like phishing emails that trick users into giving passwords and other personal information.
- Create strong passwords.
- Shred bill statements and other correspondence that may contain personal information.
- Monitor your financial accounts regularly.
- Use security software with firewall and anti-virus protection.
- Examine e-mails to see where they are coming from.
- Request your free credit reports from the three credit report companies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You get one free credit report a year from each company.
- Request your refund as a direct deposit.
Starting January 2021, all taxpayers who can verify their identities, are eligible for Identity Protection PIN. It’s a six digit PIN that offers additional protection for your Social Security number on tax returns.
Remember, the IRS never initiates contact with taxpayers through phone calls, text, e-mail, or social media, to request personal or financial information. They won’t make calls with threats of lawsuits or arrests. If there is a legitimate reason to contact you, the first contact is typically by letter. In some cases they can make unannounced visits to the taxpayer but it’s usually after attempts by letter have been made. IRS revenue agents will request payment of taxes owed, but it will never be to a source other than the US Treasury.
To report that you’ve been a victim of tax fraud, visit the IRS ID Theft Central Section online or call 1-800-908-4490. Also report it to your local authorities and state agency Florida Department of Revenue at 1-800-352-9273.
Visit IRS.gov for more information.
Until next time, be aware, make good choices, and stay safe.
Written by: Alina Lopez