With the approaching tax season comes reminders to protect yourself against identity theft and tax return fraud. This week is Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has taken a leading role in fighting identity theft and making resources available to consumers such as how to protect your identity, your child’s identity, your medical identity, and your business data too. Also, if you’ve been targeted by identity thieves, learn what steps to take.
The IRS is calling attention to these ever-growing problems and recently issued Tips for Taxpayers, Victims about Identity Theft and Tax Returns.
The IRS reports that in fiscal year 2013 brought a 66 percent increase in IRS criminal identity theft investigations while indictments and sentencing doubled.
Take steps to protect yourself.
Check your credit report regularly.
The law entitles you to a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three credit reporting companies. This means every four months you can check one of the three credit bureaus to keep a close watch on activity reported under your Social Security number. By going through the FTC website you can be assured that you are using the free website and not a scammer’s imposter website.
File your tax returns early. Scammers are filing false tax returns that claim large tax refunds using a real taxpayer’s Social Security number. Taxpayers only learn about it when their properly filed returns are rejected. Start now pulling together information so when the last tax information arrives in your mailbox next month you will be all set to have your returns prepared. Let the scammers, not you, get a rejection notice from the IRS that blocked the payment of a fraudulent refund.
You can also arm yourself to fight scammers by signing up with the FTC to receive scam alerts by e-mail.
Get your New Year off to a good and smart start!