Trying to ensure that you file your taxes correctly by the April deadline each year can be a challenge. Unfortunately, the difficulty doesn’t end there; the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) also warns taxpayers to be on the lookout for tax identity (ID) theft whenever tax season comes around here in California. Tax ID theft is when a criminal uses a person’s Social Security number (SSN) to commit fraud or file a false tax return.
Knowing how to protect yourself from tax ID theft is crucial, which is why the IRS makes such an effort to spread awareness on how to protect yourself against such a crime.
What Can Happen If You Become a Victim of Tax ID Theft?
When you become a victim of tax identification theft, you could potentially end up with an IRS bill for back taxes and penalties. You may even find yourself facing criminal investigation or being blocked from receiving tax refunds. The IRS also warns that if you are a victim of tax ID theft, it may take months for the agency to restore your credit and clear your name.
What Can You Do?
The following are a few tips to prevent your tax ID from being stolen:
- File your tax return as early as possible: Even if your SSN ends up being stolen, the thief will have less of a chance of being able to steal your tax refund if you’ve already filed your return.
- Be wary of phishing scams: Phishing scams are emails, texts, or messages sent by criminals. They will often look like they’re coming from the IRS or other tax agencies in an attempt to trick you into revealing your SSN. The IRS will only send you official information and requests in the mail.
- Protect your SSN: Don’t keep your SSN card in your wallet. Keep it at home in a safe place. Be sure to shred all documents that contain your SSN before throwing them away.