During tax season, identity thieves target victims to acquire their social security numbers and personal information in order to file fraudulent tax returns. Identity thieves obtain social security numbers in a variety of ways which include stealing W2s from mailboxes, posing as the IRS in emails or over the phone and pretending to be a reputable tax preparation service.
One of the recommendations the IRS makes that can help reduce your chances of becoming a victim of identity theft is to not give your personal information away unless you know with certainty that you are speaking with a trusted source. One way to ensure you are speaking with a trusted source is to be the person who initiates the contact whether it’s over the phone, snail mail, email and any other means of communication. Additionally, if you receive an email from the IRS requesting personal information, do not reply to the email but forward it to the IRS at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following tips have been provided by the IRS to help protect you from becoming a victim of identity theft:
- Don’t carry your Social Security card or any documents with your Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) on it.
- Don’t give a business your Social Security number or ITIN just because they ask. Give it only when required.
- Check your credit report every 12 months.
- Secure personal information in your home.
- Protect personal computers by installing and updated security patches, and change 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.
Visit www.irs.gov for more information about identity theft.
For an interactive way to learn more about how you can protect your identity, take a helpful quiz called, “Is Your Identity at Risk?”