In the words of the Hump Day Camel, “Guess what day it is? Guess what day it is? Huh, anybody? Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike…” Ok, so maybe it’s not Wednesday… but IT IS the first official day of Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week.
What is Tax Identity Theft?
Tax identity theft happens when someone files a fake tax return using your personal information – like your Social Security number (SSN) – to get a refund from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
For the past five years, tax identity theft has been the most common form of identity theft reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). And, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, more than 236,000 tax returns were considered fraudulent last year because of identity theft. That’s a whole lot of tax returns and a whole lot of headaches for honest taxpayers.
How do you know if you’re a victim?
Unfortunately, many people don’t even realize they’re a victim until the damage is already done. To their surprise, they open their mailbox and find a rejection letter from the IRS saying:
• You were paid by an employer you don’t know
• More than one tax return was filed using your SSN
What can you do to protect yourself?
The FTC and several other organizations are working hard to make sure you get what’s owed to you this tax season, with these helpful tips:
File early in the season
Identity thieves move fast. If you can, file early so you get your refund before they do.
Use a secure internet connection and mail your return directly from the post office
“Before you enter in all your personal and financial information, you want to make sure the site you are using is safe. Make sure the URL address begins with shttp or https and keep receipts of all your transactions,” says Quizzle’s Director of Technology Paul Price.
Protect your Social Security number
This nine digit number is one of the most important numbers assigned to you. Don’t carry it with you and don’t give it out unless you have to.
Once identity thieves have your SSN there’s a good chance they will use it to commit other crimes. We suggest you make sure you’re protected with the Quizzle Pro+ Identity Theft Protection plan. It’s the protection you need to feel confident, rest easy, and have more control over the safety of you and your family.
Check your credit report each month
Check your report for things you don’t recognize, like employers, addresses or accounts, and be sure to dispute any inaccurate information. You can check your Equifax credit report for free at Quizzle.com.
REJECTED – is the last thing you want to see when you file your tax return and abide by all the rules. Keep an eye on anything that looks suspicious, and report it immediately by calling the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490.
For more information on Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week, visit http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0029-tax-identity-theft-awareness-week.