BBB urges early filing to avoid tax identity theft! The Equifax data breach in May of 2017 exposed the sensitive personal information of 143 million American consumers, making it easier for fraudsters to claim the tax returns of those affected. Better Business Bureau Serving Central & South Alabama is encouraging taxpayers to file early this tax season in order to protect themselves from income tax fraud. Most people do not know they have been a victim of tax fraud until they get ready to file their taxes and realize that someone has already filed taxes using their social security number.
Signs that you may be a victim of tax identity theft include via irs.gov:
- More than one tax return filed using your SSN.
- You owe additional tax, refund offset or have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return.
- IRS records indicate you received wages or other income from an employer for whom you did not work.
Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Tax Theft:
- File as soon as you can. This is not always possible for everyone because many are waiting for their W2 paperwork; however, the sooner you file the better.
- Use a business or service you trust/File electronically. Find tax professionals with BBB's Accredited Business Directory. Look for credentials. Ideally, your tax preparer should either be a certified public accountant, a tax attorney or an enrolled agent. All three can represent you before the IRS in all matters, including an audit. If a refund is due, you can get your refund in less than a month by filing electronically and requesting that your refund is deposited directly into your account.
- Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, threatening calls, and texts from thieves posing as legitimate organizations such as your bank, credit card companies and even the IRS.
- Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails.
How to Spot an IRS Impostor Scam:
- The IRS doesn't call, text or email. The IRS won't call for payment or overdue taxes without first contacting you by mail
- Be wary if you are being asked to act immediately. Scammers typically try to push you into action before you have had time to think. The IRS will give you the chance to question or appeal what you owe.
Tax season begins January 29th and the deadline to file is April 17, 2018.