Liz Crenshaw's Guide to Consumer Issues, Recalls and More

Don't Fall Victim to Tax Fraud

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK

    Washington D.C. has the highest number of tax-related identity thefts per person in the country, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

    The IRS says it’s seen a significant increase in refund fraud because of identity theft. So, how is it done?

    Thieves steal someone's social security number and then file a fake return in order to get that person's tax refund.

    The IRS says it opened 1,492 identity theft related criminal investigations in fiscal year 2013 compared to 898 the year before. That's a 66 percent increase.

    The IRS says it’s assigned more than 3,000 employees to work on identity theft-related tax fraud cases.

    The IRS offers these tips to protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft:

    • Don’t carry your Social Security card or any documents that include your Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
    • Don’t give a business your SSN or ITIN just because they ask. Give it only when required.
    • Protect your financial information.
    • Check your credit report every 12 months.
    • Secure personal information in your home.
    • Protect your personal computers by using firewalls and anti-spam/virus software, updating security patches and changing passwords for Internet accounts.
    • Don’t give personal information over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you have initiated the contact or you are sure you know who you are dealing with.

    If you believe you’re a victim of identity theft:

    Be alert to possible identity theft if you receive a notice from the IRS or learn from your tax professional that:

    • More than one tax return for you was filed;
    • You have a balance due, refund offset or have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return;
    • IRS records indicate you received more wages than you actually earned or
    • Your state or federal benefits were reduced or cancelled because the agency received information reporting an income change.

    If you receive a notice from the IRS and you suspect your identity has been used fraudulently, respond immediately by calling the number on the notice.

    If you did not receive an IRS notice but believe you’ve been the victim of identity theft, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490, extension 245 right away so we can take steps to secure your tax account and match your SSN or ITIN.