Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your social security number to file a fraudulent tax return on your behalf.
How do I know if I am a victim?
Unfortunately, most people do not know if they are a victim of tax-related identity theft until after the crime has already been committed. Taxpayers find out if they are a victim when they file their taxes. Taxpayers will submit their tax annual documentation only to find that their taxes have already been filed, by someone else. According to the General Accountability Office, the IRS paid out $7 billion in false tax refunds in 2015. That’s $7 billion in the pockets of cyber hackers.
How can I avoid becoming a victim?
You are your own best defense. The only way you can become a victim of tax identity theft is if the criminal files an income tax return using your social security number before you do. The best defense? File your taxes as early as possible so the “bad guys” don’t have the option. Please also follow the tips below to protect critical data, like your social security number.
Don’t be fooled by calls or emails posing as the IRS.
The IRS communicates via snail mail. Do not trust any emails, and do not click on links or attachments that are posing as the IRS.
Use Antivirus software.
OIT offers McAfee antivirus software for free at oit.ua.edu/software.
Keep an eye on your credit score.
Check your credit report every few months to ensure no one is making purchases, filing tax returns or posing as you.
What if this happens to me?
The IRS combats tax-related identity theft with an aggressive strategy of prevention, detection and victim assistance. Visit irs.gov for more information.