Top 13 Things Every Taxpayer Should Know about Identity Theft
The following information has been provided to the ITRC by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Office of Identity Protection. The IRS/ITRC Solution 34 gives the consumer or victim a comprehensive look at the efforts of the IRS to address IRS issues caused by identity theft (see also IRS/ITRC Fact Sheet 143).
As a proactive measure, the IRS shares the top things every taxpayer should know about identity theft with taxpayers every year. It is good guidance on how taxpayers can protect themselves and their tax information, especially during the filing season. The following is the top thirteen list:
2. Identity thieves get your personal information by many different means, including:
- Stealing your wallet or purse
- Posing as someone who needs information about you through a phone call or e-mail
- Looking through your trash for personal information
- Accessing information you provide to an unsecured internet site
4. To learn how to identify a secure website, the Federal Trade Commission suggests if you’re shopping or banking online, stick to sites that use encryption to protect your information as it travels from your computer to their server. To determine if a website is encrypted, look for https at the beginning of the web address (the “s” is for secure).
5. If your Social Security number is stolen, another individual may use it to get a job. That person’s employer may report income earned by them to the IRS using your Social Security number, thus making it appear that you did not report all of your income on your tax return.
6. Your identity may have been stolen if a letter from the IRS indicates more than one tax return was filed for you or the letter states you received wages from an employer you don’t know. If you receive such a letter from the IRS, leading you to believe your identity has been stolen, respond immediately to the name, address or phone number on the IRS notice.
7. If your tax records are not currently affected by identity theft, but you believe you may be at risk due to a lost wallet, questionable credit card activity, or credit report, you need to provide the IRS with proof of your identity. You should submit a copy of your valid government-issued identification – such as a Social Security card, driver’s license, or passport – along with a copy of a police report and/or a completed Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit. As an option, you can also contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit, toll-free at 800-908-4490. You should also follow FTC guidance for reporting identity theft at www.ftc.gov/idtheft
8. Show your Social Security card to your employer when you start a job or to your financial institution for tax reporting purposes. Do not routinely carry your card or other documents that display your Social Security number.
9. IRS impersonation schemes flourish during tax season and can take the form of e-mail, phone websites, even tweets. Scammers may also use a phone or fax to reach their victims. If you receive a paper letter or notice via mail claiming to be the IRS but you suspect it is a scam, contact the IRS at http://www.irs.gov/contact/index.html to determine if it is a legitimate IRS notice or letter. If it is a legitimate IRS notice or letter, reply if needed. If the caller or party that sent the paper letter is not legitimate, contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484. You may also fax the notice/letter you received plus any related or supporting information to TIGTA. Note that this is not a toll-free FAX number 1-202-927-7018.
10. While preparing your tax return for electronic filing, make sure to use a strong password to protect the data file. Once your return has been e-filed, burn the file to a CD or flash drive and remove the personal information from your hard drive. Store the CD or flash drive in a safe place, such as a lock box or safe. If working with an accountant, you should query them on what measures they take to protect your information.
11. Never use public WiFi when filing online. Only use secure internet connections to protect the information on your computer.
12. If you have information about the identity thief that impacted your personal information negatively, file an online complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at www.ic3.gov The IC3 gives victims of cyber crime a convenient and easy-to-use reporting mechanism that alerts authorities of suspected criminal or civil violations. IC3 sends every complaint to one or more law enforcement or regulatory agencies that have jurisdiction over the matter.
13. For more information about identity theft – including information about how to report identity theft, phishing and related fraudulent activity – click here: http://www.idtheftcenter.org/taxidtheft.html
If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App.