Anticipating a big refund this tax season? So are lurkers on the Dark Web. Here are signs to watch for to keep tax-related identity theft from happening to you. Source: NLG
Tax-related identity theft is a big money maker for identity thieves. In his article “5 Identity Theft Facts That Will Terrify You,” Adam Levin, writing for HuffPost, reports that in 2015 the IRS prevented 19 million suspicious tax returns, and stopped more than $63 billion in fraudulent refunds. A whopping $5.8 billion in tax refunds were estimated to be paid out to fraudsters.
Here are tax ID theft signs you should be on the lookout for as tax filing season approaches and what to do if tax id theft happens to you:
TAX ID THEFT: SHOULD I BE WORRIED IF…?
You get a notice from the IRS indicating that multiple returns (more than you would expect, based on your past year’s work history) were filed under your Social Security number.
The IRS claims you owe additional taxes for, or have a “refund offset” for, a year in which you didn’t file a tax return.
The IRS tells you that you received income from an employer you don’t know or never worked for.
ONE OR MORE OF THE ABOVE JUST HAPPENED TO ME. NOW WHAT DO I DO?
If you receive a letter from the IRS that states you received income under your SSN that you know you were not paid, go directly to the IRS for details.
WORDS OF CAUTION:
Remember, the IRS will never contact you by email, by text or on social media. (If the IRS sends you a “friend” request? Don’t accept it.)
If you get a call from someone claiming to represent the IRS, that’s a big “red flag”; do not disclose tax or ID related information.
Similarly, if you get an email that claims to be from the IRS, don’t reply to it and do not click on any links. Instead, forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
GOT IT. SO WHO SHOULD I CONTACT TO HELP ME?
Contact the Internal Revenue Service to report the fraud: IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit 1-800-908-4490
File a report with the police and send it to IRS ID Theft Affidavit Form 14039 [PDF] along with proof of your identity (copy of your Social Security card, driver’s license or passport).
As a best practice, record the dates you made calls or sent letters. Keep copies of letters sent and/or received in your files.
Contact the credit reporting agencies to put a fraud alert on your credit reports
Order copies of your credit reports (there may be a fee).
Create an Identity Theft Report by filing an identity theft complaint with the FTC and filing a police report.
Visit IdentityTheft.gov for more information on these steps.
Report suspicious online activity or emailed phishing scams by going to: email@example.com. To report phishing scams you detect by phone, fax or mail, call 1-800-366-4484.
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