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Identity Theft and Tax Refunds – IRS Issues Notices

January 19, 2012

How to protect yourself against identity theft and fraudulent tax filings

A day doesn’t go by where you are not told to protect your confidential information from prying eyes. Whether it is on television, radio or the internet, we are constantly told to keep an eye on our credit reports and bank accounts for fraudulent activity. One area, however, that doesn’t receive as much attention is your tax filings with the IRS.

Recently, the IRS issued notices FS-2012-7 and FS-2012-8, alerting taxpayers to the threat of identity theft and fraudulent tax filings. Identity thieves are now producing fraudulent tax returns in order to claim tax refunds that you may be otherwise entitled to. Imagine filing your tax return expecting a refund and instead receiving a notice from the IRS stating that more than one tax return was filed under your social security number.

You need to be vigilant in protecting yourself from identity theft, including:

  • Do not carry your social security card with you
  • Closely guard your personal financial information
  • Check your credit report at least annually
  • Do not provide your social security number or any other personal identifiable information to anyone whom you do not trust (including responding to unsolicited emails).

Remember, anyone with a legitimate need for such information WILL NOT contact you via email (including the IRS, who explicitly state that they will NOT initiate contact with taxpayers via email).
If you feel you have been a victim of identity theft, you need to contact the IRS and your creditors, including the major credit bureaus, immediately. For your reference, below is the contact information for the IRS and the credit bureaus:

IRS 1-800-908-4490
Equifax 1-800-525-6285
Experian 1-888-397-3742
TransUnion 1-800-680-7289

The IRS has also set up a couple of websites to provide you with more information, including the Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft and the IRS Identity Theft Protection page.

If you have any questions about further measures that can be taken to protect your personal financial information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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