There are several ways an individual taxpayer can minimize their risk of becoming an identity theft victim during the tax filing season.
Every individual needs to remember that their tax filing documents from employers, financial institutions, financial services firms, healthcare providers, insurance companies and others are often sent via the U.S. Post Office and email. Every time you or someone on your behalf mails a document with your sensitive information, dozens of eyes and hands come across your information before it is processed – thus increasing your vulnerability to theft. Even if you take precautions to guard your information, not everyone will be. This is often how theft occurs.
This allows identity thieves to steal your personal information from your mailbox, the U.S. Post Office, or your personal and business email accounts.
Consequently, the IRS has provided the below tips for taxpayers while they implement new methods to protect taxpayers and help victims of identity theft.
- Don’t carry your Social Security card or any documents that include your Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
- Don’t give a business your SSN or ITIN just because they ask. Provide this information only when required.
- Protect your financial information in locked cabinets.
- Check your credit report every 12 months.
- Don’t email documents containing your private information.
- Protect your personal computers by using firewalls and anti-spam/virus software, updating security patches and changing 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 or you are sure you know who you are dealing with.
If you believe you are an ID Theft victim you can take the following actions:
- Contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490, extension 245.
- Complete the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit, Form 14039.
- Report incidents of at www.consumer.ftc.gov or the FTC Identity Theft hotline at 877-438-4338
- File a report with the local police – it must be your local precinct!
Contact the fraud departments of the three major credit bureaus:
- Equifax – www.equifax.com, 800-525-6285
- Experian – www.experian.com, 888-397-3742
- TransUnion – www.transunion.com, 800-680-7289
- Read Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft — http://www.irs.gov/uac/Taxpayer-Guide-to-Identity-Theft
- Place a security freeze with each of the 3 bureaus (we provide this as a simplified service called Credit Block)