An anticipated tax return brings hopes of finally replacing that ugly bathroom wallpaper or booking your spring beach vacation. But what if something – or someone – steals that away from you?
Victims of identity theft usually don’t become aware of the problem until it’s too late. Tax ID theft is no different. Using a stolen identity, scammers can file fraudulent tax returns and pocket big tax refunds.
How Are Identities Stolen?
Identity thieves most commonly use phishing to gather private and personal information by sending false electronic communications (emails or phone calls) from a seemingly legitimate source. The catch? Financial institutions and government agencies never ask you for personal information such as your social security number or password over emails and phone calls. If the IRS wants additional information about a tax return you filed, you’ll see a letter in the mail.
If you fall victim to phishing via email or provide your information to a scammer over the phone, the trouble won’t stop there. Your confidential information could be shared to a network of thieves committing fraud.
Discovering Tax ID Theft
Yikes – the scammers got you. How do you know? You become aware that somebody has stolen your tax-related ID when:
- The IRS sends you a notice regarding the changes in your tax return that you never made
- The IRS informs you about the claiming of false credits and/or deductions on your return
- The IRS informs you about the wrong income figure on your return
- Your tax refund does not reach you
Thanks to the IRS Security Summit effort, which enforced better security measures to prevent fraud, incidents in 2017 decreased. But a government initiative won’t stop cybercriminals who are on the prowl. The IRS recently issued a scam alert urging taxpayers to watch out for erroneous refunds and fake calls to return money to a collection agency.
Pro tip: Treat your personal and financial information like cash – don’t leave it lying around.
What to Do if You Fall Victim to Tax Fraud
If you think someone has used your social security number for a tax refund or the IRS sends you a notice indicating a problem, contact Tax Defense Network immediately. Specialists will work with you to get your tax return filed, claim any due refunds, and protect your IRS account from identity thieves in the future.
Don’t let tax fraud steal your dreams by destroying your financial goals.