It’s tax season! Filing your tax return is a less than thrilling activity, and you may be tempted to procrastinate. However, filing early can help reduce the chance that you’ll become a victim of tax-related identity theft.
In recent years, an emphasis on filing tax returns electronically and receiving tax returns via direct deposit has led to an increase in incidences of tax-related identity theft. Many of these cases involve thieves stealing social security numbers and using them to file fraudulent tax returns early on in the season. The thief will set up a bank account to have the money deposited in, and then close the account after receiving the victim’s tax refund. Then, when the victim files his or her real return, he or she will be notified that the IRS has received 2 filings under the same social security number.
You should be particularly concerned about your tax refund being usurped by identity thieves if you have recently suffered the theft of your wallet or purse, or any sort of theft or misplacement of materials including sensitive information like your social security number.
If you receive any type of notice from the IRS indicating that you may be a victim of tax-related identity theft, they suggest that you respond to them immediately. You can then fill out an Identity Theft Affidavit. The IRS has beefed up the portion of its staff that investigates potential identity theft cases and has also updated its filters to better screen for fraudulent returns.
Make sure that you get the refund you deserve by closely guarding your sensitive information and filing early!