IRS offers tips for taxpayers, victims about identity theft and tax returns

Credit: MGN Online

IRS offers tips for taxpayers, victims about identity theft and tax returns

January 15, 2014 Updated Jan 15, 2014 at 2:12 PM EST

(IRS news release) Identity theft remains a top priority for the Internal Revenue Service in 2014.

According to a recent news release from the IRS:

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes nationwide, and refund fraud caused by identity theft is one of the biggest challenges facing the IRS. This year, the IRS continues to take new steps and strong actions to protect taxpayers and help victims of identity theft and refund fraud.

Stopping refund fraud related to identity theft is a top priority for the tax agency. The IRS is focused on preventing, detecting and resolving identity theft cases as soon as possible. The IRS has more than 3,000 employees working on identity theft cases. We have trained more than 35,000 employees who work with taxpayers to recognize and provide assistance when identity theft occurs.

Taxpayers can encounter identity theft involving their tax returns in several ways. One instance is where identity thieves try filing fraudulent refund claims using another person’s identifying information, which has been stolen. Innocent taxpayers are victimized because their refunds are delayed.

Here are some tips to protect you from becoming a victim, and steps to take if you think someone may have filed a tax return using your name:

Tips to protect you from becoming a victim of identity theft

    Don’t carry your Social Security card or any documents that include your Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

    Don’t give a business your SSN or ITIN just because they ask. Give it only when required.

    Protect your financial information.

    Check your credit report every 12 months.

    Secure personal information in your home.

    Protect your personal computers by using firewalls and anti-spam/virus software, updating security patches and changing passwords for Internet accounts.

    Don’t give personal information over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you have initiated the contact or you are sure you know who you are dealing with.

If you believe you’re a victim of identity theft

Be alert to possible identity theft if you receive a notice from the IRS or learn from your tax professional that:

    More than one tax return for you was filed;

    You have a balance due, refund offset or have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return;

    IRS records indicate you received more wages than you actually earned or

    Your state or federal benefits were reduced or cancelled because the agency received information reporting an income change.

If you receive a notice from the IRS and you suspect your identity has been used fraudulently, respond immediately by calling the number on the notice.

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