1) Do: Spell Out “Internal Revenue Service” on Your Check
If you are issuing a check to the IRS this year, be sure to spell out the name, rather than abbreviating “IRS”. Scammers are looking for checks written out to the IRS because this allows them to change the “I” to a “T” or “M”.
They simply open an account in that name (TRS or MRS) and deposit the check. Unfortunately, this is a common scam and typically, you won’t know the check has been stolen until the IRS pursues you for non-payment.
2) Do: Be an Early Bird
The sooner you file, the less chance thieves have of filing under your SSN and stealing your refund. Tax related identity theft victims often have to wait one year or more to get their refund from the IRS. The IRS offers a Taxpayer’s Guide to Identity Theft on their website with more information on protecting yourself from identity theft.
3) Do: Be Careful When Choosing a Tax Preparer
There is always a risk when handing over sensitive financial information to another party. Be sure you are aware of their commitment to security and privacy before you select a tax preparer.
4) Don’t: Assume an email or Text Message from IRS is Legitimate
Never respond to emails, text messages or social media requests from someone who appears to be from the IRS. The IRS states on their website that they don’t initiate contact with taxpayers through those methods. Report all unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS to email@example.com
5) Don’t: Give out Personal Information without Verifying their Identify First
Never share your personal information with someone who calls or emails you requesting to “verify” or update the information they have on record.
Government agencies and most financial institutions do not gather information with a phone call or email. Instead, find the public number for the department or organization and call them back to confirm they were in fact calling you.
6) Don’t: File Taxes Over Public Wi-Fi Networks.
According to Experian, 91% of taxpayers will be using personal computers or tablets to file their taxes electronically. When dealing with sensitive information, always be sure you are on a secure network connection for any online activity.