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Tax identity fraud occurs when a criminal files a false tax return using a stolen Social Security number in order to fraudulently claim the refund. Victims are unaware until they file a return and learn one has already been filed in their name.
File early. By filing early, you give criminals less time to use your information to file a false return.
File on a protected Wi-Fi network. If filing online, be sure you’re connected to a password-protected personal network. Avoid using public networks like a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Use a secure mailbox. If filing by mail, drop your tax return at the post office or an official postal box instead of your mailbox at home.
Find a tax preparer you trust. Get recommendations and research a tax preparer thoroughly before handing over your financial information.
Shred what you don’t need. Once you complete your tax return, shred sensitive documents you no longer need; safely file away the ones you do.
Beware of phishing scams by email, text or phone. The IRS will not contact you by email, text or social media. If the IRS needs information, they will contact you by mail first.
Watch for missing mail. If you don’t receive your W-2, and your employer indicates it’s been mailed or it looks like it was opened before delivery, contact the IRS immediately.
If you believe you’re a victim of tax identity theft alert the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490.
More information about tax identity theft is available from the FTC at ftc.gov/taxidtheft and the IRS at irs.gov/identitytheft.