As you all know, we try and get information about current tax scams out to you so that you all are aware and don’t become victims to potential fraud. Identity theft and or tax fraud are some seriously scary things that exist and unfortunately happen far too often and sadly, it tends to begin with social security number.
Fun fact, social security numbers were first introduced in November of 1936 by President Franklin Roosevelt for the sole purpose of tracking the earning histories of U.S. workers in order to determine social security entitlements and benefit levels. Now, however, it’s the most common way for people to be identified and to gather data about someone. It’s a pretty nifty number to have, right? But that also means it’s an important number to keep to yourself, essentially.
Unfortunately, tax-related identity theft can happen when someone steals your SSN to file a return claiming a fraudulent refund. You may not even know this happened to you until you try to file or the IRS sends you a really nice letter saying they’ve received a suspicious return from you. Be on alert for letters saying things such as:
- More than one return was filed using your SSN
- You owe additional tax, refund offset or have had collection actions taken against you for a year you didn’t file a return for
- Income has been recorded from an employer you didn’t work for
If these things do happen, here’s what you can do. Most importantly, respond immediately to your IRS notice via a number provided or go to IDVerify.irs.gov. Instructions will be provided to help you figure out what to do. You’ll also want to file a complaint with the FTC at identitytheft.gov. Lastly, you’ll want to contact your financial institutions and close any financial or credit accounts opened or tampered without your permission. (You can also contact a major credit bureau like Experian and tell them to place a fraud alert on your credit records)
Note that it’s important to know what type of personal information was stolen, as not all tax fraud happens from social security numbers. With that in mind, here are some ideas to keep yourself and your personal / confidential information private:
- Use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections
- Use strong passwords
- Don’t click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails
- Don’t routinely carry your social security card
- Make sure tax records are locked away
- And learn to recognize threatening calls or emails from thieves posing as legitimate organizations
- Frequently check your credit report
- Only give your SSN when it’s required, not just because it’s asked for
- Don’t give personal information over the phone or through email
We hope that none of our clients are subjected to these unfortunate occurrences. But in the event they do happen, we’d like for you guys to be prepared!