In 2015, the Internal Revenue Service was able to thwart over 1.4 million different tax fraud attempts worth nearly $11 billion! Criminals are now utilizing a multitude of tactics to obtain personal and financial information in order to submit fraudulent claims.
Consumers should be aware and learn how to avoid becoming the next victim of this increasingly common criminal activity.
In this brief guide, we will provide you with several tips on how to prevent your social security number and identity from being illegally used by fraudsters.
Regardless of age, background, or degree of financial knowledge – each person within the United States may quickly and easily become subject to tax fraud. Once it happens, it is very time consuming and costly to reverse the damages and detriment.
The Filing Process
The first tip to avoiding tax fraud is to pay special attention to the filing process. First, you should make a point to file your return as soon as you are fully capable. This results in less of a gap of time that criminals may have to access your personal information and use that information to benefit themselves.
If you use a service that submits your tax return over the internet, it is imperative that you only use a Wi-Fi network that is considered to be highly secure. You should never use a public hotspot to submit personal and financial information online.
Additionally, you should use extreme caution when it comes to emails, texts, and other types of messages received online. Many fraudsters will use professional-looking communications that appear to be sent from the Internal Revenue Service in order to attempt to gain access to your personal and/or financial information. Remember, when the IRS has the need to contact you, it will always be through traditional mail.
The Unnecessary and The Missing
In order to avoid tax fraud, you must consider both the unnecessary and the missing. I know this sounds a bit confusing, so, we will explain.
The unnecessary are those documents that you have but do not need in order to file a return.
The missing are those documents that you should have received, but did not. Once you have gathered all of your paperwork, you should shred any that were not required for your tax return submission. Then, if you find you are missing W-2s and other financial-related mail pieces, you should immediately contact the Internal Revenue Service.
When it comes to traditional mail, many important documents could be illegally intercepted by criminals.
If You Are a Victim
If you find that you have become a victim of tax fraud, you should contact the Internal Revenue Service immediately. If you receive notice from the IRS, respond and complete the form known as “Form 14039”, which is a specially-designed Identity Theft Affidavit.
You should also close any type of financial account that has been illegally tampered with for your protection.