Tax related fraud is on the rise and takes many forms. Fraudulent filing is one, where a false (under-reported income) return generates a check from the IRS that is mailed to a “new” address; identity thieves may sell your stolen social security number and personal information to those with poor credit to get credit cards to use illegally; and to illegal workers, who use your information to apply for a job, then report earnings under your name, flagging your return for failing to report income. The list of scams is as broad as the imagination of people wanting your financial identity.
Filing early can bring the identity theft to light sooner than later, minimizing the time and damages associated with resolving the theft.
Help Protect Your Identity When Filing Taxes
With the tax season in full swing, it is important to be extra vigilant about how you share personal information. In addition to filing early, there are other ways to help reduce your risk of becoming a victim of identity theft this tax season. If filing offline, make sure not to leave any tax forms in the car and to shred any paperwork you do not need before throwing out.
If filing online, be suspicious of emails claiming to be from the IRS, even if the email has the appropriate logos. According to the IRS website, the IRS does not reach out to taxpayers for personal information unless there is an issue. Also, log off completely when finished with each transaction and be wary of slow-running computers. However you choose to file, request your refund as a direct deposit so criminals cannot have it redirected to their address or steal it from your mailbox.