Tax Identity Theft: Safety Tips

Tax Identity Theft: Safety Tips

Tax Identity Theft
Tax identity theft occurs when a perpetrator uses someone else’s Social Security
Number (SSN) to file a felony tax return to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to
receive a tax refund. This type of crime is also known as stolen refund fraud. Other
varieties of tax identity theft include falsely claiming dependents, using a deceased
person’s taxpayer information, or earning wages under another person’s SSN. Tax
identity theft is a type of synthetic identity theft, meaning a perpetrator only needs a
SSN and can fabricate other needed values. This is easier for criminals to commit than
‘regular’ identity theft, which requires gathering more real information.
Below are some tips and tools for helping you stay safe this tax season.
General Safety Tips
• Protect your sensitive personal information – keep passwords hidden, and
memorize your SSN instead of carrying your card
• Monitor your information regularly (SSN, bank statements, credit scores)
• Shred documents you don’t need instead of throwing them away – don’t
make your personal information easy to find
Tax-specific Safety Tips
• File your taxes early – if your taxes are already filed, potential criminals
can’t take advantage of your SSN
• If mailing a physical copy of your taxes, go to the post office rather than
placing in mailbox
• If filing taxes online, use a secure internet connection
• The IRS will never call to threaten you for your information – don’t fall for
an IRS imposter
Tools and Resources
• IdentityTheft.gov is the federal government’s one stop online resource for
tax ID theft victims
o Report identity theft
o Personalized recovery forms available
o Browse recovery steps and options
• The National Association of Tax Professionals lists legitimate companies and
individuals trusted to prepare your taxes
• Protecting Small Business is the FTC’s resource for small business owners
with information about how to improve their cybersecurity and recognize
common scams, with more information coming this year
• If taxpayers or businesses are concerned about the Equifax breach, the
Federal Trade Commission offers information and guidance at
www.FTC.gov/Equifax
Society of Citizens Against Romance Scams (SCARS)
The Society of Citizens Against Romance Scams (SCARS) aims to decrease the quantity
and severity of online romance scams while providing support for current victims. With
over 1,500 related deaths and $35 billion lost worldwide, the consequences of online
romance scams are devastating. Romance scammers cultivate an online relationship
with their victims to increase vulnerability to potentially obtain money or personal
information.
Romance scams can be detected and avoided early by taking precautions when using
social media. Some early red flags include:
• Consistently poor grammar and/or spelling
• Their message is two or three paragraphs long – unusual for initial contact
• Their profile images appear to be magazine quality or inconsistent
If you suspect a loved one is a victim of this type of crime, try to limit their online
activity, monitor their bank account, and intervene, with a law enforcement officer if
necessary, to explain the severity of the situation. If you yourself are a victim of a
romance scam, report the encounter to AnyScam, contact law enforcement, and make
sure you use a secure Internet connection in the future.

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