Tax-Related Identity Theft
Filing taxes isn’t something most people get excited about. But tax ID thieves do. Yes, tax ID theft is a thing. Here’s a closer look at what it is, how to protect yourself, and what to do if you become a victim.
Tax ID theft is when your Social Security number (SSN) is used to get a job or to file a fraudulent tax return. The damage can be far-reaching and long-lasting. It may impact your ability to get a job or to receive Social Security benefits. And even if you identify fraud and work with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), it could take up to six months for the issue to be resolved — and for you to receive any legitimate refund.
A Startling Statistic
The IRS is working hard to protect taxpayers by thwarting fraudulent claims. According to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s interim report for the 2016 filing season, “The IRS … confirmed 31,578 fraudulent tax returns involving identity theft … and prevented the issuance of $193.8 million in fraudulent tax refunds … as of February 29, 2016.”
What Are Signs That You May Be a Victim?
According to the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service, the top clues are:
- You try to file your tax return electronically, but the IRS rejects it because it has already received a return using your SSN.
- You receive an IRS notice showing you received wages from somewhere you never worked.
- You receive an IRS letter indicating one or more tax returns have been filed using your SSN.
- You receive a balance due notice or refund offset notice, or have collection actions taken against you for a tax year in which you didn’t file a return or receive a refund.
How Can You Reduce Your Risk?
Protect your SSN: Don’t keep your SSN in your wallet or share it unless it’s required by law.
Shred it: Thwart dumpster divers by shredding anything with identifying information. This includes credit card offers.
Question “authority”: Never share your information without validating the source of the request. The IRS will never email you or text you to request personal information. If you receive correspondence by anyone claiming to be from the IRS, don’t use the contact information provided there. Instead, go to one of these official sources:
- Taxpayer Advocate Service website or call 877.777.4778
- IRS Identity Verification line: 800.830.5084
What If You’re a Victim?
Take action immediately. Head to any of these resources for step-by-step instructions or to report fraud.
Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration:
- Phone: 800.366.4484
- Website: https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/
Federal Trade Commission’s IdentityTheft.gov organization:
- Phone: 877.438.4338
- Website: https://www.identitytheft.gov
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Our Risk Coaches are licensed insurance professionals who are trained to look at coverage from your perspective. They’re glad to help you navigate the often-perplexing world of insurance coverage. Contact your local Risk Coach™ professional, or call us at 800.227.2757, Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET.