You're busy gathering your tax documents, filing your return, and waiting for your refund. Unfortunately, you also need to be aware of some common Tax Fraud scams, including tax-related identity theft and phishing attempts that impersonate the IRS, and steps to take to protect your information.
File Your Tax Returns Early
Tax-related identity theft is a common scam that involves using your stolen Social Security Number to file false tax returns, directing any calculated refunds to be sent to the identity thief. To reduce the risk of this, be sure to guard your personal information and file your tax returns as soon as you can. The IRS has a page dedicated to advising you on safeguards against this scam, as well as steps to take to fix it if you are victimized.
Phishing Calls From The “IRS”
Identity thieves often “phish” for your personal information through phone calls or emails that try to make you panic and disclose information you shouldn’t.
Wondering if it’s really the IRS calling? Here are some clues:
- The IRS generally does not call to demand immediate payment (especially not via iTunes gift cards and similar options)
- Most contact with the IRS will start with a letter through the US Postal Service
- Be skeptical of calls out of the blue that threaten arrests or deportations or other similar actions
Here’s an article from the IRS website that tells you what you need to know to determine if you are speaking to a legitimate representative, and which summarizes what the IRS can and cannot do when it comes to settling tax debts.
Set An IP PIN For Security
You may have the option of setting an IP PIN with the IRS to protect against fraudulent returns.
More Information On Protecting Your Identity
Here's a short presentation from our Financial Education Center on Identity Protection. And for more information on common types of fraud and things you can do to protect yourself, check out our Identity Theft & Fraud Awareness section.