Tax Identity Theft – Here’s What You Need to Know to Stay Safe
This week is Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week and we want to make sure you have the facts to keep yourself safe this tax season. First, let’s start off with how tax identity theft can occur. Tax identity theft happens when your Social Security number is stolen and the thief uses your number to file a fraudulent tax return and then receives the refund via mail or direct deposit. Not all data breaches or computer hacks result in identity theft. It’s important to find out which information was taken during the breach and monitor it. Now let’s take a look at the warning signs and how to prevent yourself from being a victim.
There are three warning signs that you may be a victim of tax identity theft. According to the IRS, you should be on alert if:
- The IRS or your tax professional notify you that more than one tax return has been filed using your Social Security number.
- If you owe additional tax, refund offset or have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return.
- If IRS records indicate you received wages or other income from an employer you did not work for.
Now that we know what the signs are, let’s discuss ways that you can reduce your risk:
- Make sure that your anti-virus and firewall protection is up-to-date.
- When you get emails, ask yourself “do I know the sender and was I expecting this email with attachments or links?” If the answer is no, there is the potential that the email is a phishing attempt.
- Be aware of phone calls, texts and emails from thieves posing as legitimate organizations like your bank or even the IRS.
- Protect your personal information and don’t carry your Social Security number or other important documents with you.
Identity theft can have a devastating impact on your financial security. Protecting your identity is important to us, that’s why we have systems in place and offer various products and services that can help safeguard your identity. For even more information on preventing, identifying and recovering from identity theft, visit our other blog here.
The material provided on this website is intended for informational purposes only. Links to other web sites are provided for reference and do not constitute a referral or endorsement by Pioneer Bank or its affiliates. Please note that such material is not updated regularly and that some of the information may not be current. It is recommended that you consult with a financial professional for assistance regarding the information contained herein.
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