It doesn’t take much for identity thieves to leverage just a small amount of personal information and beat you to your own tax refund. By filing a fake tax return early, they can redirect your check to themselves. Learn how to help protect yourself from tax identity theft by safeguarding your personal and financial information.
Get Your Identity Protection PIN
An Identity Protection PIN, or IP PIN, is an important line of defense in protecting your identity with the IRS. It’s a unique 6-digit number that you submit with your tax return so the IRS is certain that it’s you filing the return and not an imposter Still being rolled out in January 2016, the program is currently open to residents in high-risk identity theft areas, as well as anyone who has been a victim of tax-related identity theft in the past.
Hackers can use viruses and malware to access the financial information stored on your computer, like your Social Security number, bank account numbers and passwords. Protect your data by using firewall, anti-spam and antivirus software. Make sure that your computer’s automatic security updates are turned on and change passwords on all accounts often.
Tip: Longer passwords tend to be safer passwords, provided you use random letters and numbers with a mix of upper- and lowercase characters.
Review Each Credit Report at Least Once a Year
Every year, you’re entitled to receive one free credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies, including TransUnion. Read through your annual credit reports for any suspicious activity. The reports contain the information you need to deal with any inaccurate information you may find.
If you discover accounts have been opened in your name or your address has been changed without your authorization, you may already be the victim of identity fraud and you should report this suspicious activity to the FTC, as well as the local police.
A common trick criminals use is to contact people, pretending to be from the IRS, hoping to get personal information, like a Social Security number. Always remember that the IRS never contacts taxpayers using email, text messages or social media asking for personal information or details about your finances4. Never reveal your Social Security number, Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN, or your IP PIN to anyone who doesn’t legitimately need it.