Taxpayers beware identity thieves: Protect your ID

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Taxpayers need to be careful to protect their personal information. Identity thieves use many methods to steal personal information and then they use the information to file a tax return and get a refund.

Prevention is the best way to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft.

You can help protect yourself by being aware of how thieves try to steal personal information and also by knowing what to do if you suspect your identity has been stolen.

Here are 10 things the IRS wants you to know about identity theft:

1. The IRS does not initiate contact with a taxpayer by e-mail.

2. If you receive a scam e-mail claiming to be from the IRS, forward it to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov.

3. Identity thieves get your personal information by many different means, including:

  • Stealing your wallet or purse

  • Posing as someone who needs information about you through a phone call or e-mail

  • Looking through your trash for personal information

  • Accessing information you provide to an unsecured Internet site.


4. If you discover a website that claims to be the IRS but does not begin with 'www.irs.gov', forward that link to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov.

5. To learn how to identify a secure website, visit the Federal Trade Commission at www.onguardonline.gov/tools/recognize-secure-site-using-ssl.aspx

6. If your Social Security number is stolen, another individual may use it to get a job. That person's employer may report income earned by them to the IRS using your Social Security number, thus making it appear that you did not report all of your income on your tax return.

7. Your identity may have been stolen if a letter from the IRS indicates more than one tax return was filed for you or the letter states you received wages from an employer you don't know. If you receive such a letter from the IRS, leading you to believe your identity has been stolen, respond immediately to the name, address or phone number on the IRS notice.

8. If your tax records are not currently affected by identity theft, but you believe you may be at risk due to a lost wallet, questionable credit card activity, or credit report, you need to provide the IRS with proof of your identity.

You should submit a copy of your valid government-issued identification -- such as a Social Security card, driver's license, or passport -- along with a copy of a police report and/or a completed Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit.

As an option, you can also contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit, toll-free at 800-908-4490. You should also follow FTC guidance for reporting identity theft at www.ftc.gov/idtheft.

9. Show your Social Security card to your employer when you start a job or to your financial institution for tax reporting purposes.

Do not routinely carry your card or other documents that display your Social Security number.

10. For more information about identity theft -- including information about how to report identity theft, phishing and related fraudulent activity -- visit the IRS Identity Theft and Your Tax Records Page, which you can find by searching "Identity Theft" on the IRS.gov home page.

David Tucker handles media relations for the IRS for the states of Washington, Alaska and Hawaii.

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