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Should I Worry About Identity Theft When Filing My Taxes?

 

April 16, 2010

Filing your taxes means you are legally required to release some of your most personal financial information to the IRS. While there is no way around this requirement, you want to make sure no one else is using that information for identity theft.

Releasing personal and financial data to any entity in any form carries some element of risk. Whether you are filing by yourself online, using an old-fashioned paper form, or using a professional preparer like PRO-TAX, keeping your personal information protected is critical.

PRO-TAX is committed to protecting client information in every way possible. You may not immediately notice how the PRO-TAX office security differs from our competitors’. But we have carefully included a number of best practices to ensure client information safe.  Some of these are proprietary, but here are a couple of examples.  We make sure all files are kept secure and locked when not in use. No one is allowed in the preparation area if they are not escorted by a staff member. And for this same reason, we do not allow clients (or anyone walking off the street) to use our bathroom facilities because of the chance for identity theft.

We know criminals use many methods to steal personal information but they will need to find an easier target than PRO-TAX. We are aware that some of our office procedures may create minor inconveniences for clients, but you can rest assured that your information is secure when you file with PRO-TAX.

To help protect you from some of the more common methods criminals use to steal your information, we have listed 10 things the IRS wants you to know about identity theft so you can avoid becoming the victim of a scam artist.

  1. Identity thieves get your personal information by many different means, including stealing a wallet or purse or accessing information you provide to an unsecured Internet site. They even look for personal information in your trash. They also pose as someone who needs information through a phone call or e-mail.
  2. The IRS does not initiate contact with a taxpayer by e-mail.
  3. If you receive an e-mail scam, forward it to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov.
  4. If you receive 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.
  5. Your identity may be 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.
  6. If your Social Security number is stolen, it may be used by another individual to get a job. That person’s employer would report income earned to the IRS using your Social Security number, making it appear that you did not report all of your income on your tax return.
  7. 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, IRS Identity Theft Affidavit.
  8. 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 SSN.
  9. If you have previously been in contact with the IRS and have not achieved a resolution, please contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit, toll-free at 1-800-908-4490.

For more information about identity theft – including information about how to report identity theft, phishing and related fraudulent activity – contact PRO-TAX at 1-800-809-2829 or visit the IRS Identity Theft Resource Page at www.IRS.gov. 

 
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