PROTECTING YOURSELF DURING TAX SEASON As we enter the income tax filing season, I want to make you aware of scams on the rise during this time of year.
Identity thieves prowl around all year to steal your Social Security Number (SSN) to file a phony tax return and collect “your” refund. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) imposters are also making calls to pressure you into making “back taxes” payments.
Here are some ways to protect against tax identity theft:
- Protect your SSN throughout the year. Please don’t give it out unless there’s a good reason, and you’re sure to whom you’re giving it.
- File your tax return as early in the tax season as you can.
- Use a secure internet connection if you file electronically or mail your tax return directly from the post office.
- Research a tax preparer thoroughly before you hand over personal information.
- Check your credit report at least once a year for free at AnnualCreditReport.com. Make sure no one has opened a new account in your name.
What to do if you are a victim: If you find out someone has fraudulently “filed” a tax return and collected “your” refund money, report this to the IRS and the Federal Trade Commission to get a personal recovery plan. IdentityTheft.gov has the information to help you file a report.
IRS imposter scams The IRS will never contact you via a phone call or email. Watch for these warning signs if you receive a call (or email):
- It may show up in the caller ID or subject line as being from the “IRS.”
- The caller may give you a “badge” number and know the last four digits of your Social Security number.
- The caller says you will be arrested if you don’t pay your “back taxes” and demands you pay with a gift card, prepaid debit card, or money transfer.
If you get a suspicious call: write down the phone number or email address and report it to tigta.gov or 800-366-4484.
To learn about the latest scams and consumer protection issues, sign up for updates on the Federal Trade Comission website.
View an infographic about tax identity scams from the Federal Trade Commission.
Chief of Police
Spring Branch ISD Police