It’s tax season! If you haven’t already filed, you have 38 more days before it’s due. For most filers, this is a busy time. I’m pulling my information together and organizing it for my CPA to make his job a little easier when we meet next week. This is also a busy time for identity thieves. While they never rest, they love this time of year. The amount of data on our returns is truly amazing.
- Our full legal name & address
- Our social security number
- Our banking and investment information
If an identity thief manages to get ahold of our return, it’s pretty easy for them to step into our shoes and file a false return, open new credit cards, get a job, buy a car, and potentially access our financial accounts.
The Internal Revenue Service takes identity theft very seriously.
- Last year, the IRS initiated 2,400 enforcement actions against 1,310 suspected identity thieves.
- For fiscal 2013, the number of enforcement actions is already 1,703 against 907 suspects.
- In fiscal 2012, the IRS prevented issuing more than $20 billion in false refunds.
- That’s up from fiscal 2011’s prevention total of $14 billion in false refunds.
How would you know if an identity thief has stolen your information and filed a false return? If you receive a letter from the IRS stating:
- You’ve filed more than one tax return.
- Someone has already filed using your information.
- You have a balance due or have had collection actions taken against you for a year when you didn’t file a return.
- Your refund is being withheld or reduced to pay back taxes.
- You received wages from an employer where you didn’t work.
If you receive a letter like this
- Call the IRS at (800) 826-1040 to verify the letter’s authenticity.
- Once verified, contact the person who’s named on the letter.
- Contact the security department of your financial institutions to make them aware you may have had your identity stolen.
- Review all your activity to make sure your accounts don’t have any suspicious charges, withdrawals, etc.
Here are a couple of suggestions to help keep your information safe:
- The IRS will not contact you via email or through Facebook to request your personal information.
- File your return electronically using the option available in your tax software.
- If you mail your tax return, walk it into the post office (one of the post offices I’ve used in the Lake Highlands area of Dallas discovered its drive up mail boxes had been broken into).
- If you’re expecting a refund, have it deposited into your account directly (you’ll get it quicker this way too!).
- Think about getting a post office box to keep any mail you receive secure.
Inexpensive coverage is available with your renter’s or home insurance that will come in handy if you do have your identity stolen.
What are you doing to keep your data safe? Share that with us in the comments section of our blog or on our Facebook page. We will all benefit!