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Protecting Yourself from Tax Time Identity Theft

Anabel Marquez of the IRS joins to share the new tricks and old ways that identity thieves work to capture your identifying information during tax time. Learn what to do and what to look for during this ‘open season’ for savvy thieves and scammers looking to make off with your return.

Identity theft remains a top priority for the Internal Revenue Service. If you lose your wallet or have your mail stolen, you could be at risk for identity theft. If you discover questionable charges on your credit cards, you may already be a victim. Even though not all ID theft cases affect tax records, it’s an issue the IRS takes very seriously.

Identity theft remains a top priority for the Internal Revenue Service. If you lose your wallet or have your mail stolen, you could be at risk for identity theft. If you discover questionable charges on your credit cards, you may already be a victim. Even though not all ID theft cases affect tax records, it’s an issue the IRS takes very seriously, establishing an early warning system that has prevented the issuance of over $6 billion in fraudulent tax refunds.

This tax filing season, the IRS, states, and the tax industry have all joined forces as part of the Security Summit, in an unprecedented effort to protect taxpayers’ federal and state tax accounts from identity thieves. Many of the new safeguards are invisible to taxpayers but will help the agency verify the identity of the taxpayer and the validity of the tax return. There are also new password standards for tax software, and the IRS has continued to expand its detection filters from just 11 in 2012 to 183 in 2016.

Here are four simple suggestions that can make a difference:

  • Protect your personal data.
    Don’t routinely carry your Social Security card, and make sure your tax records are secure. Only provide your social security number when it’s absolutely necessary.
  • Always use current security software with firewall and anti-virus protections.
    Make sure the security software is always turned on and can automatically update. Encrypt sensitive files such as tax records you store on your computer. Change your passwords routinely.
  • Identify and avoid phishing emails, threatening calls and texts from thieves posing as IRS employees.
    Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails. Also, keep in mind the IRS does call taxpayers to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call any person about taxes owed without first mailing them a bill. We do not ask for credit card numbers over the phone or require you to use a specific payment of method for your taxes.
  • Monitor your financial accounts.
    If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a “fraud alert” on your credit account. This important step makes it harder for identity thieves to obtain a credit card or loan in your name.

You can report suspicious online or emailed phishing scams to: phishing@irs.gov. For phishing scams by phone, fax or mail, call 1-800-366-4484. Report IRS impersonation scams to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s IRS Impersonation Scams Reporting.

You can also learn more about credit, finance and lending on Credit & Finance Talk with Experian on iTunes.

About the Author: Anabel Marquez is the IRS spokesperson for Los Angeles County. She joined the agency in 2010 and has taken part in several IRS-related tasks including volunteering for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and taking a 4-month assignment at the IRS National Media Relations office in Washington D.C. When she’s not at work, she’s exploring L.A. with her family.

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