Tiffany M. Faust | Posted on Jan 27, 2020
January 27, 2020 is a big day! It’s National Chocolate Cake Day, Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day, and Tax Identity Theft Awareness Day. So, while you’re celebrating with a slice of cake and popping some bubble wrap, brush up on these tips to protect yourself from tax identity theft.
Beware of Tax-Related Scams
Many local residents have reported receiving scam telephone calls claiming their Social Security number has been suspended or blocked due to criminal activity. Scammers will typically claim to be from the Social Security Administration. But, at this time of the year, undoubtedly they will be impersonating the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The caller will often know your name and maybe even other personal information. So, how you can tell if the call is a scam? It’s important to remember the IRS will never:
- Call to demand immediate payment using a debit, credit or prepaid card, gift card, direct debit, wire transfer, or check made payable to any entity other than the U.S. Treasury.
- Threaten taxpayers with lawsuits, deportation or imprisonment.
- Demand payment without the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
- Ask for a debit or credit card number, or other personal information, over the phone.
Additionally, be cautious of emails claiming to be from the IRS. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages, or social media to request personal or financial information. The IRS will contact taxpayers by mail when more information is needed to process a return.
You can report telephone scams to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484. Suspicious tax-related emails may be reported to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Use Strong Authentication to File Electronically
If you use the same password for multiple online accounts, a compromise of one online provider could expose your other accounts. Protect your online filing account using a unique password that is at least 12 characters in length and contains a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters such as *%$. In addition, most tax software providers now offer 2-factor authentication such as requiring you to enter a security code that is texted to your mobile phone in addition to correctly entering your username and password. It’s also helpful to utilize automated alerting features that send an email or text message when your account has been accessed from a new device or when your password has been changed.
Respond To IRS Letters
Unfortunately, you may not know you’re a victim of identity theft until you’re notified. Watch for IRS letters stating an online account has been created in your name or that the IRS is questioning information on a tax return you did not file. Should you receive one of these letters, act promptly. Contact the IRS at 1-800-908-4490 to verify the authenticity of the letter and protect your identity.