Let’s assume you are a law-abiding taxpayer but do not get around to filing your return until later in the filing season. Suddenly you are informed that two returns have been filed using the same social security number. Yours! Guess what? Your identity has been stolen.
To avoid having your identity heisted, there are a number of things you should know.
The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email with requests for personal or financial information, or to notify you that you are being audited or getting a refund. If you receive an email like this, forward it to the IRS at http://email@example.com.
Identity thieves might gain access to personal information by stealing your wallet, requesting information about you on the phone, rifling through your trash or accessing information you have provided to an unsecure internet site. If your social security number is stolen, another individual might use it to get a job. When that person’s employer reports the income to the IRS it will look like you have underreported your income. When this occurs, contact the IRS to show that the income isn’t yours.
To protect against theft do not routinely carry your social security card or other documents that show your social security number.
It is important to be extra vigilant now since IRS impersonation schemes flourish during the income tax filing season. Such scams can take the form of e-mail, phone, fax, even tweets.
For more information about identity theft, including how to report it, search “Identity Theft” on the IRS.gov home page.