Tax season is over, and some taxpayers have already been alerted to a serious issue regarding their returns: identity theft. Along with opening new accounts and credit cards in your name, tax identity theft is one of the main uses for stolen Social Security numbers.
Below, the tax professionals at SH Block Tax Services explain the essentials of tax identity theft and the findings of the IRS’ 2019 “Taxes. Security. Together.” awareness campaign.
What Does It Mean to Be a Victim of Tax Identity Theft?
Your Social Security number may give a thief access to your financial accounts and most of the personal information required to steal your identity. Tax identity theft can occur when your Social Security number is stolen and used to file a fraudulent tax refund.
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The identity thief uses your personal information to file a fraudulent tax return, requesting a high refund amount. They submit the fraudulent claim as soon as possible so that it is received and processed before you file your real tax return. Since the IRS has already received a tax refund claim under your Social Security number, you will be unable to e-file your return. Instead, you will need to file a paper tax return and may need to submit an identity theft affidavit.
Tax Identity Theft Forecast | Phishing Scams to Watch Out for in 2019
Scammers are continually evolving their schemes as government programs improve their security systems and educate taxpayers about identity theft. Here are three of the most alarming and common tax and identity scam trends.
Callers claiming to be from the IRS and other government agencies will threaten you with jail time or fines unless you give them your Social Security or banking information.
Business Email Spoofing (BES)
These more advanced scams target business personnel such as HR or payroll managers. BES scammers pose as other businesses, employees, or executives to collect on fake receipts, reroute direct deposits, or initiate a wire transfer.
Email and Social Media Scams
If you receive a request for personal or identifying information or action via email, text, or social media, without first initiating contact yourself, it’s probably a scam. The IRS will never contact you electronically to request sensitive information. The exception to this is when you contact them first or if you are an extreme collection case. Then, a Revenue Officer (RO) or Revenue Agent (RA) may reach out without initiation, but these are in the more extreme cases.
RELATED ARTICLE: Protect Yourself from These 5 Common Tax Scams
5 Tips for Protecting Your Tax Identity
Are you worried about protecting your Social Security number and tax identity in 2019? Here are some useful tips to help you keep your personal information secure.
- Only access sensitive information while on a secure, trusted internet network.
- Make sure your account passwords are strong and unique to each account or website.
- Only open attachments or downloads from websites you trust, after double-checking that the email or site is legitimate.
- Install security software and pop-up blockers on your computer.
- Protect your Social Security number by keeping it in a secure lockbox in your home and triple-checking any website or individual who requests your number.
For more information and personalized advice, contact SH Block Tax Services today.
SH Block Tax Services | Your Go-to Stop for Tax Questions in Maryland
Are you worried that your tax identity may be compromised? Contact SH Block Tax Services. Our tax experts will investigate your accounts, work to resolve any issues, and safeguard your tax identity.
IRS kicks off annual list of most prevalent tax scams. (2019, March). IRS News Releases. Retrieved from https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-kicks-off-annual-list-of-most-prevalent-tax-scams-agency-warns-taxpayers-of-pervasive-phishing-schemes-in-its-dirty-dozen-campaign
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.