Tax Season…or Thief Season?
Tax season is upon us…and that means so are tax thieves. Do you wait until the last minute to file your taxes? Is your Social Security number as secure as you think it is? Tax thieves leverage their knowledge of procrastinators and those who don’t keep their social security numbers private – and then they prey on helpless tax payers. Tax season is the time of year that represents deadlines, scrummaging to locate information, and last but not least, satisfaction. The moment you file your tax return is a relief because all that’s left after is a waiting game…for that wonderful tax refund at the end of the tunnel.
What exactly is tax-related identity theft?
“Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses a stolen Social Security number to claim a refund and file a fraudulent tax return,” said Grace McKnight with the Internal Revenue Service.
The IRS released a statement saying, “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.”
Don’t wait until you file to receive a notice from the IRS stating, “More than one tax return for you was filed.” Monitor your financial transactions regularly and then make sure everything registered under your name is actually something you did yourself with a Public Records Check. Simply search your name and you can find out everything that’s registered under your name in your public records. Protect your personal identity from tricky identity thieves.
Victims of Tax Theft
One unsuspecting couple, Anthony and Ashley Thurman, are real life examples of tax fraud identity theft. They recently filed their taxes only to find out that someone else had already filed in their name. An unknown individual had used one of their social security numbers on their tax return to file as a spouse. The couple then had to go through the lengthy process of filling out extra paper work, waiting 180 days, and paying $400 dollars to repair the damages.
“All they do is sit at home and try and make a quick buck, while we’re working our butts off,” Anthony complained.
What can you do to safeguard your identity?
1. FILE YOUR TAXES EARLY
Many schemers try to get a head start on taxpayers. They file discretely and by the time tax payers file…it’s too late. File early to avoid or catch tax-related identity theft in its early stages.
2. PROTECT YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER
Protect all of your confidential documents from online sites, social media, etc. and keep your documents in locked safe at home. Make sure you are always working in a secure network. Also, drop off your return in a secure mailbox. Identity thieves will go to extreme measures to get your information.
3. CHECK YOUR RECORD FOR IDENTITY FRAUD
Sometimes it is too late to stop the thief from gaining access to your information. This does not mean you have to wait until you file your taxes to catch them. Conduct a public records check on yourself and monitor your information. SpyFly will give you access to criminal records, marriage records, addresses, emails, and phone numbers registered under your name. If you see any activity that was not performed by you or a family member,notify the authorities immediately.
Don’t fall victim to identity theft. Learn of identity theft early on. The longer you wait the harder it is to dig yourself out of a hole.
As the tax season makes way, SpyFly wishes you all a Safe and Happy tax file!