March 13, 2014
By Salvatore J. Armao, CPA/PFS, CFP, CFE, CGMA Managing Partner, Armao LLP
According to a recent release by the Internal Revenue Service entitled Tips for Taxpayers, Victims about Identity Theft and Tax Returns, “Identity theft remains a top priority for the Internal Revenue Service in 2014. 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.”
FOREWARNED IS FOREARMED
Despite this dire news, there are steps that can be taken to lessen any danger that might lie in your path. Among the IRS recommendations are the following:
• Don’t carry your Social Security card or any documents that include your Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
• Only divulge your SSN or ITIN when required.
• Protect your financial information and check your credit report every 12 months.
• Protect your personal computers by using firewalls and anti-spam/virus software, and changing passwords for Internet accounts.
• Never give personal information over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you have initiated the contact or are absolutely sure of those with whom you are dealing.
You may have been a victim of identity theft if you receive a notice from the IRS or learn from your tax professional that 1) more than one tax return for you was filed; 2) action is being taken against you for a year in which you did not file a tax return; 3) the IRS indicates you received more wages than you actually earned; or 4) your state or federal benefits were reduced or canceled because the IRS received a report of income change.
Even if you haven’t received an IRS notice, but suspect that you may have been a victim of identity theft, immediately contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490, x 245 to secure your tax account and match your SSN or ITIN.