Stop falling for IRS and tax ID theft scams.
Because we are distracted during tax season, we are primed to be socially engineered or manipulated by tax scams and can end up becoming the victim of tax ID theft. Here’s how to combat the problem:
- When someone asks for your SSN, TIN or other ID, refuse until you verify their legitimacy.
- If someone promises to drastically reduce your tax bill or speed up your tax return, suspect fraud and tax ID theft.
- If anyone asks you for information in order to send you your check, they are scamming for your identity. The IRS already knows where you live (and where to send your refund).
- Know that the IRS will NEVER email you for any reason. The IRS emphasizes that it doesn’t “initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information.” This includes “any type of electronic communications, such as text messages and social-media channels.”
- In case you are caught in a tax-related identity theft scam, make sure you subscribe to a sophisticated privacy and identity theft monitoring software to protect your back and help you recover from the mess.
Protect your non-digital sources of identity theft.
A lot of tax ID theft happens in physical forms. Take a few minutes to defend the following common sources of ID theft:
- Pay your taxes with checks that can’t be easily washed, altered or counterfeited.
- Mail safely. Tax documents are easy to spot and commonly stolen out of the mail. Send your tax return by certified mail so that you know it has arrived safely and is transported with greater care.
- Consider filing electronically so that you remove mail theft from the equation.
- Shred all tax-related documents that you no longer need.
If you feel that you are a victim of tax-time identity theft, contact the IRS’s Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490, ext 245. You can also get in touch with the IRS’s Taxpayer Advocate Service at 877-777-4778. Most importantly, begin taking the preventative steps above now, as it will be too late when filing season is upon us. The sooner you get started, the greater your peace of mind and data security.
John Sileo is an author and highly engaging speaker on internet privacy, identity theft and cyber security. He is CEO of The Sileo Group, which helps organizations to protect the privacy that drives their profitability. His recent engagements include presentations at The Pentagon, Visa, Homeland Security and Northrop Grumman as well as media appearances on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper and Fox Business. Contact him directly on 800.258.8076.