Paying taxes is considered a civic duty for every working American. The money we pay is distributed to many programs, resources and salaries that help our country thrive. Tax season is upon us and many people are looking to get an early start on their tax returns. However, there are some cases of criminal activity such as tax identity theft during this time. This occurs when someone steals your social security number and files a tax return in order to obtain a fraudulent refund. Thankfully, there are many ways you can prevent this from happening to you! Here are 5 tips to prevent tax identity theft!
Protect your Information - Always keep your social security card and other documents withholding your SSN safely stashed away. Try to refrain from saving it on unsecured docs on your computer or phone as well. Be sure to provide it only if you know and trust the source and if deemed absolutely necessary.
Avoid Scams - Sometimes scammers will cold call you claiming that they're the IRS to extract your SSN among other private information. The IRS will never do this without at least mailing you a bill or notice of some kind, so be sure you're prepared to handle this situation appropriately. If you do receive a fraudulent call or email, make sure you report the incident.
Report Suspicious Behavior - If you sense any abnormal behavior or find that you're a victim of tax ID theft, simply file a complaint with the FTC. You can also contact any credit bureau and alert them of fraudulent behavior on your credit records. You can also reach out to the IRS and they will take you through the necessary steps to resolve the situation.
File Tax Returns Early - The majority of people wait last minute to file and send in their tax return, which turns out to be a big risk if you do end up becoming a victim of tax identity theft. A lot of Tax ID thieves carry out their schemes early on, so the sooner you complete yours, the easier it'll be to thwart and reject any fraudulent refunds made under your name. Waiting until the deadline makes undoing this mess a lot harder.
Be Aware of the Signs - There are many early warning signs you can detect that signal tax ID theft. For instance, if the IRS shows that you received wages from someone you didn't work for or if more than one tax return was filed using your SSN, then you're probably a victim of fraudulent activity.
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