Tax ID Theft and How to Protect Yourself
With tax season upon us, identity theft can wreak havoc with your returns. However, MSU Federal Credit Union is here to help you safeguard your identity and your money!
What is tax identity theft?
Tax identity theft occurs when someone uses your Social Security number (SSN) to get a job or tax refund. If an identity thief uses your SSN to file for a tax refund before you do, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) records will show that someone else has already filed and received a refund. If the thief uses your SSN to get a job, your SSN will be used by the employer to report the income. Because you are unaware of the identity thief’s earnings, you wouldn’t report the income, but the IRS doesn’t know those wages were not yours and their records will show you failed to report all your income.
How will I know if I am a victim?
Victims are often unaware until they try to file their tax return electronically and are rejected. This is because their SSN has already been used to file a return, or they received a letter from the IRS by mail stating they have received a suspicious tax return that uses the victim’s SSN.
Note that the IRS will NOT:
• Contact taxpayers via email, text, or social media asking for personal or financial information.
• Call taxpayers with threats of lawsuits or arrests.
• Ask you to wire money, pay with a gift card or prepaid debit card, or share your credit card information over the phone.
If you do receive an email, text, or other electronic message claiming to be from the IRS, do not click on any links or open any attachments. Forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org and report it to the US Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (tigta.gov) immediately.
What if I am a victim?
If you think someone has used your SSN to file for a tax refund but you have not received a letter from the IRS, you can go to IdentityTheft.gov to complete an IRS Identity Theft Affidavit, report it to the IRS and Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and start a recovery plan.
If you have received a letter from the IRS saying that someone has used your SSN to get a tax refund or that there is another problem, follow the instructions in the letter, and respond quickly.
Call the IRS using the phone number provided in the letter. You will need to have the letter and a copy of your previous year’s tax return when you call to help with verifying your identity.
To limit further potential damage from identity theft, you can put a fraud alert on your credit reports, put a credit freeze on your reports, and order your own credit reports to close any new accounts opened in your name.
What can I do to prevent this from happening to me?
• File your return as early in the tax season as possible. The sooner you file, the smaller the window of time an identity thief has to file before you.
• If you are filing electronically, use a secure internet connection. Do not use unsecure, public Wi-Fi hotspots at places like coffee shops.
• Mail in your tax return directly from the post office.
• Shred copies of your tax return and any other documents used before disposing of them.
• Respond to mail from the IRS as soon as possible.
• Use recommendations and research tax preparers thoroughly before using their services.
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