How to Protect Yourself Against Tax-Related Identity Theft - Trust Point

How to Protect Yourself Against Tax-Related Identity Theft


Remain alert for identity theft attempts at tax time. Be especially wary of unsolicited phone calls from scammers claiming to be with the IRS. Remember: The IRS will always send correspondence first; it will not initiate contact with you via a phone call.

Tax – related identity theft can happen if a scammer steals your Social Security number and uses it to file for a tax return or try to claim a fraudulent refund.

Here are some warning signs of tax-related identity theft:

  • There was more than one tax return filed with your name and social security number
  • The IRS tells you that you owe additional taxes, you have a collection action filed against you for a year that you didn’t file for a return, or your tax refund was reduced to pay off debts
  • The IRS has records that you filed taxes for an employer that you have never worked for.

While warning signs are good to help you identity if tax-related identity theft is taking place, here are 7 ways to protect yourself before it happens.

  1. One way to protect from tax-related identity theft is to file your tax returns early. Thieves using stolen identities to seek refunds usually file early in the season so that the IRS receives the phony forms before the real taxpayers file their returns. By filing as early as possible, you might beat a thief to the punch.
  2. The IRS has warned tax preparation professionals that scammers are sending fraudulent phishing emails asking them to update their IRS e-services information. The email has an IRS logo and e-services logo; it attempts to steal passwords and other personal data. To learn more about phishing emails, view our blog: Be Aware of Email Phishing…Yes, Again
  3. Make sure to always use some type of security software. This can include a firewall or antivirus protection. Along with these, make sure to use strong, unique passwords that only you know, such as a unique phrase. Using shared or weak passwords is an easy way for scammers to steal your information.
  4. Never click on links, downloads, or attachments from suspicious or unknown senders. These links can contain viruses that give scammers access to your computer and personal information.
  5. Never give personal information over the phone. Scammers will often pose as your bank, credit card company or the IRS. The IRS will never try to contact you through email, text message or social media. If you receive any contact from the IRS that you are not sure of, call the IRS directly rather than responding to any emails or messages.
  6. Keep your Social Security card in a safe place such as a locked safe at home. Carrying your social security card around puts you at risk of losing it or having it stolen.
  7. Make sure to shred any bank or tax statements when you no longer need them. These documents contain personal information that scammers could use to steal your identity. Trust Point typically hosts an annual shred event to provide a safe option to dispose of confidential documents.

It is an ongoing battle to be aware of scams, especially during timely opportunities for scammers like tax season. Taking extra time to look twice, thinking before clicking, and asking questions can go a long way to help you avoid falling victim to a scam this tax season and beyond.

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