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Prevention and Detection: Tax-Related Identity Theft

The final deadline for filing your tax returns is coming up soon. Before you file your taxes, make sure that you are taking precautions against identity theft. Tax-related identity theft continues to be a problem that the IRS is attempting to deal with. They have taken numerous steps to help protect taxpayers and assist victims of identity theft and refund fraud.

How Does Tax-Related Identity Theft Occur?

If your social security number is stolen by someone, then that person can use the number to file a fraudulent tax return in order to claim a refund. Your social security number can be stolen in several different ways, such as via a computer hack, a data breach or even through the physical theft of your social security card. Identity theft only affects a small percentage of tax returns, but if it occurs, it can cause a significant delay in your rightful tax refund.

How Can You Prevent Tax-Related Identity Theft?

The following are steps that you can take in order to prevent your social security number from being stolen and used for tax-related identity theft:

  1. Never carry your social security card or any documents that contain your social security number on your person—even if it’s in your wallet. Leave it at home in a safe place and only bring it with you if it is needed for a specific reason. The same goes for your Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.

  2. Be very careful about giving out your social security number or your Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. Just because a business asks for it doesn’t always mean you need to give it out.

  3. Go over your credit report every year to make sure there are no discrepancies.

  4. Use firewalls and anti-virus software to protect your computer against hacks.

If more than one tax return was filed on your behalf, if you owe additional tax, or if IRS records state you received more wages than you earned, you may be a victim of tax-related identity theft. Be sure to protect yourself against identity theft with our ID Shield, available at our Benefits Store.


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