Eight Steps To Prevent Tax Identity Theft
Sign up for our FREE Monthly Email Newsletter
In addition to keeping in the financial know, you may be interested in checking your credit score and report.
¹The credit scores provided under the offers described here use the Equifax Credit Score, which is a proprietary credit model developed by Equifax. The Equifax Credit Score and 3-Bureau scores are each based on the Equifax Credit Score model, but calculated using the information in your Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit files. The Equifax Credit Score is intended for your own educational use. It is also commercially available to third parties along with numerous other credit scores and models in the marketplace. Please keep in mind third parties are likely to use a different score when evaluating your creditworthiness. Also, third parties will take into consideration items other than your credit score or information found in your credit file, such as your income.
²The Automatic Fraud Alert feature is made available to consumers by Equifax Information Services LLC and fulfilled on its behalf by Equifax Consumer Services LLC.
³Equifax Credit Report Control™ is only available while you have a current subscription to Equifax Complete Premier. Locking your credit file with Equifax Credit Report Control will prevent access to your Equifax credit file by certain third parties, such as credit grantors or other companies and agencies. Credit Report Control will not prevent access to your credit file at any other credit reporting agency, and will not prevent access to your Equifax credit file by companies like Equifax Personal Solutions which provide you with access to your credit report or credit score or monitor your credit file; Federal, state and local government agencies; companies reviewing your application for employment; companies that have a current account or relationship with you, and collection agencies acting on behalf of those whom you owe; for fraud detection and prevention purposes; and companies that wish to make pre-approved offers of credit or insurance to you. To opt out of such pre-approved offers, visit www.optoutprescreen.com/.
4We will require you to provide your payment information when you sign up and we will immediately charge your card $4.95. After that, we will charge the card $19.95 for each month you continue your subscription. You may cancel at any time; however, we do not provide partial month refunds.
Equifax® is a registered trademark and Equifax Complete™ Premier is a trademark of Equifax, Inc. © 2014, Equifax Inc., Atlanta, Georgia. All rights reserved.
With tax identity theft becoming a more widespread crime, it’s important that consumers know how to reduce their chances of becoming a victim.
The IRS has reported a significant increase in the number of fraudulent tax returns filed, with 641,690 tax-related identity theft incidents from the first nine months of 2012, up from 242,142 total incidents in 2011 and 47,730 from 2008.
Tax identity theft occurs when an offender falsifies tax returns to get someone else’s refund check. Sometimes all it takes is a stolen Social Security number and a fake address. Victims don’t realize their refunds have been stolen until the IRS denies them their legitimate refund check.
“The best defense against identity theft of any kind is to be vigilant in the protection of your personal information,” said Trey Loughran, president of the Personal Solutions unit at Equifax.
“It can take many months for a victim of tax identity theft to finally get his or her rightfully owed refund check.”
Here are eight steps you can take to lessen your risk of becoming a victim of tax identity theft:
1. Protect your personal information by keeping important documents, like your birth certificate and Social Security and Medicare cards, in a safe place. Only carry these documents with you when it’s necessary.
2. File your tax return as soon as possible during tax season. If you file with the IRS first, the thief will be denied when trying to use your Social Security number for a fake return.
3. If you file your taxes by mail, take your tax return to the post office. Do not leave it in your mailbox, where it can be easily stolen.
4. Check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure your tax report is being prepared by a reputable business.
5. If you wouldn’t normally file a tax return, for example if you are a full-time student with no income, be wary of anyone who offers to prepare your taxes so you can receive a refund or “free money.”
6. Never sign a blank form that someone else will complete for you.
7. Watch out for scams. Remember that the IRS will never contact you through any form of electronic communication, like email, to ask for your personal information.
8. Check your credit report regularly. If your personal information has been compromised for tax fraud, identity thieves can also use it to commit other types of identity fraud, like opening credit card accounts in your name. You can request a free credit report each year from all three credit reporting agencies at www.annualcreditreport.com.
If the IRS denies your tax return because you have become a victim of identity theft, you can still get your tax return. File a report with the police, followed by the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490. Also sign an identity theft affidavit.
Equifax maintains this interactive forum for education and information purposes in order to allow individuals to share their relevant knowledge and opinions with other members and visitors. We encourage you to participate in discussions about personal finance issues and other topics of interest to this community, but please read our commenting guidelines first. Equifax reserves the right to monitor postings to the forum and comments will be published at our discretion. Do you have questions or comments about your Equifax credit report or customer-service issues regarding an Equifax product? If so, please contact Equifax directly. All opinions and information expressed or shared in blog comments are solely those of the person submitting the comments, and don't necessarily represent the views of Equifax or its management.