Taking the steps below will help protect you from becoming a victim of tax related identity theft. In 2015, the Federal Trade Commission reported a 50% increase in identity theft; the vast majority of the increase involved tax refund fraud. On average, the IRS resolution time for people who are affected by this type of fraud is 278 days.
- The most common method of tax identity theft is using your social security number along with a fake W-2. The IRS processes claims in the order received, so the best protection is to make sure you file your return as early as possible.
- Be aware that using a public wi-fi is really public. Do not go to any of your personal accounts, such as online banking.
- Be careful with private documents. Your credit card statements, bank receipts, or copies of your tax returns should be shredded, not thrown in the trash.
- If you love to play online games, be careful if they ask you for personal information, such as your mother’s maiden name or the street you grew up on. Often times these are your security questions and can be used to obtain your passwords.
- Do not give any one, at any time any personal information over the phone. The IRS will never call you; they still use snail mail.
- Do not carry your social security with you.