Seven Tips to Prevent Tax ID Fraud
As the 2017 tax season gets underway, we are urging our customers to take extra precaution when filing their return to prevent their exposure to tax fraud.
“Fraudsters are using very clever tactics to get access to your personal information and submit false tax claims,” says Rob Donnelly, Vice President & Security Officer at The Bank of Marion. “Consumers should be suspicious of any email, text or social media communication claiming to be from the IRS that requests personal information. Everyone should keep a watchful eye out for missing W-2s and be very careful with any mail that contains sensitive financial information.”
Tax identity fraud happens when a criminal files a false tax return using a stolen Social Security number in order to fraudulently claim a refund. Identity thieves generally file false claims early in the year and victims are unaware until they file a return and discover that a tax return has already been filed in their name.
Here are important tips to help consumers prevent tax ID fraud:
- File early. File your tax return as soon as you’re able giving criminals less time to use your information to file a false return.
- File on a protected WiFi network. If you’re using an online service to file your return, make sure you’re connected to a password protected personal network. Avoid using public network such as a WiFi hotspot at a coffee shop.
- Use a secure mailbox. If you’re filing by mail, drop your tax return at the post office or an official postal box instead of your mailbox at home. Some criminals look for completed tax return forms in home mailboxes during tax season. If you file by mail, we suggest you use certified mail, which provides a receipt of delivery for your records.
- Find a tax preparer you trust. If you’re planning to hire someone to do your taxes, get recommendations and do thorough research before handing over all of your financial information.
- Shred what you don’t need. Once you’ve completed your tax return, shred the sensitive documents that you no longer need and safely file away the ones you do.
- Beware of phishing scams by email, text or phone. Scammers may try to solicit sensitive information by impersonating the IRS. Understand that the IRS will not contact you by email, text or social media. If the IRS needs information, they will contact you by mail first.
- Keep an eye out for missing mail. Fraudsters look for W-2s, tax refunds or other mail containing your financial information. If you don’t receive your W-2s and your employer indicates they’ve been mailed, or it looks like it has been previously opened, contact the IRS immediately. If you believe you’re a victim of tax identity theft, or if the IRS denies your tax return because one has previously been filed under your name, alert the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1800-908-4490.
In addition, you should:
- Respond immediately to any IRS notice and complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit.
- Contact your bank immediately and close any accounts opened without your permission or tampered with.
- Contact the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit records:
- Equifax www.Equifax.com 1-800-525-6285
- Experian www.Experian.com 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion www.TransUnion.com 1-800-680-7289
- Continue to pay your taxes and file your tax return, even if you must do so by paper.