As taxpayers rush to get their tax documents in by the April 15th deadline, the IRS is once again warning thieves may be targeting them as ID theft victims. Hundreds of thousands of Americans find out every year that someone has used their Social Security Number to claim false refunds.
The Insurance Information Institue reported that about 3 million consumer complaints of ID theft and fraud happen each year during tax season.
Here are some tips to have lower your risk of tax identity theft and make sure you stay protected.
Don’t give out your personal information
Identity thieves may try and get you to disclose your personal information over the phone, by text, social media, or by email. The IRS will not reach out to you for this information via electronic media unless you contact them first.
If you receive a scam email forward it to the IRS at email@example.com
File your returns as early as possible
Once you have all of your documents, go file. If you hesitate an identity thief with access to your information could have extra time to tile a fraudulent tax return on your behalf.
Use a trusted tax preparer
Non-certified tax preparers may bump their rates based on your refund by giving you deductions you aren’t entitled to and leaving you at fault if the IRS chooses to audit you. Scammers can also pose as tax preparers to steal your personal information and your refund. Do your homework and make sure you are going to a certified professional.
Anyone who prepares tax returns for compensation is required to have a tax preparer identification number or PTIN. You can look up any licensed tax preparer on the IRS’s Directory of Federal Tax Return Prepares.
Keep an eye on your accounts
As a rule of thumb, you should actively monitor your credit on websites that won’t hurt your score, like Credit Karma. You can also monitor your tax documents online on the IRS website.
Place a credit freeze or fraud alert on your credit file
If you see something uncommon on your reports or have reason to believe your personal information has been compromised you can place a credit freeze or fraud alert on your account.
You can place a credit freeze or fraud alert on your file by contacting Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion.
For more information about tax-time identity theft, visit https://www.irs.gov/uac/Identity-Protection.
California Casualty wants to make sure that all customers receive identity theft resolution services at no charge and to make the process as simple as possible. That’s why our customers offers free ID theft resolution services with every policy through CyberScout.
CyberScout assigns a personal fraud specialist who works with our customers until the fraud problem is resolved. That means you have unlimited one-on-one access to a dedicated fraud specialist who will assist you in understanding credit reports, gathering evidence against the fraudsters, working to limit damages, and following up to make sure the problem has been cleared up.
With insurance from California Casualty, if you or a loved one’s personal information is compromised, you can rest assured that a CyberScout fraud specialist will get in the trenches to help speed the recovery process – as long as it takes to restore your good credit.
This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.
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