4 Steps to Protect Yourself from Tax-Related Identity Theft
February 8, 2017

4 Steps to Protect Yourself from Tax-Related Identity Theft


With the tax season upon us, protecting your identity is more critical than ever. As noted by the IRS, tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your Social Security number to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund.

In many cases, you may be unaware a tax return has been fraudulently filed until you e-file or the IRS sends you a letter that a return has been filed using your social security number. This type of fraud is on the rise and even though the IRS and the states have come together and have enacted various safeguards to combat this type of fraud, there are certain measures you can take to proactively protect your identity.

Below are 4 simple steps to protect yourself from tax-related identity theft:

  1. Protect your social security number! Do not carry your card in your wallet or any other documents that may contain your social security number. Secure your card and sensitive documents in a safe location.
  2. Protect your computer and any other electronic devices that may contain personal information. Maintain firewalls and anti-virus software up to date. Update passwords periodically for personal accounts and ensure you have a strong password using a combination of letters, numbers, and characters.
  3. Check the activity in your credit report annually (or more often). The 3 major credit reporting agencies provide a free credit report on an annual basis.
  4. Avoid divulging personal information through unknown Internet sites, unknown calls over the phone, or unverified emails. These types of scams are known as phishing scams and are geared towards obtaining sensitive information for malicious purposes. Additionally, do not click on links or download anything from suspicious emails.

For additional information on the measures being taken by the IRS, state tax agencies, and private-sector industries, refer to the Security Summit Partners Update Identity Theft Initiatives for 2017 and for information regarding the 2016 filing season refer to IRS, States and Industry Partners Provide Update on Collaborative Fight Against Tax-Related Identity Theft.