Tips for Taxpayers: What you need to know for tax season - Sunwest Bank
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Tips for Taxpayers: What you need to know for tax season

Tips for Taxpayers: What you need to know for tax season

Tips for Taxpayers: What you need to know for tax season

It seems like every time we turn around; we hear of another data breach where confidential information has been stolen. Cybercriminals actively pursue organizations that store personally identifiable information (PII) in an effort to gain unauthorized access to it. They can either use the stolen PII for personal gain, such as filing a fraudulent income tax return under another person’s name, or they can sell it to another crook on the Dark Web.

This tax season, tax refund fraud is expected to soar again because it takes so little to file a false return – just your name, date of birth and Social Security number. An imaginative crook in possession of the three basic items of a person’s identity could create fake W-2 information and submit it, and receive the refund money within 30 days—the amount of time the law says that the agency must refund tax filers.

To make matters worse, there is rarely any consequence for an unsuccessful attempt to commit tax refund fraud. A thief could essentially file a fake return, have it rejected, and not worry about the authorities coming after them.

To protect taxpayers who have been victimized by tax fraud in the past, the IRS has implemented an identity protection (IP) PIN number to use when filing electronically. The PIN is also available to taxpayers with suspicious activity on their accounts. The use of a PIN has not yet been rolled out for taxpayers who have not yet experienced tax refund fraud.

To protect yourself from becoming a victim of tax refund fraud, follow these instructions:

  • Don’t carry your Social Security card or any documents with your SSN or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) on it.
  • Don’t give a business your SSN or ITIN just because they ask. Provide it only when required.
  • Protect your financial information.
  • Check your credit report every 12 months.
  • Store personal information in a secure place.
  • Protect your personal computers by using firewalls, anti-spam/virus software, update security patches and use complex passwords for Internet accounts.
  • Don’t give personal information over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you have initiated the contact or you are sure you know who you are dealing with.

If your tax records are not currently affected by identity theft, but you believe you may be at risk due to a lost or stolen purse or wallet, questionable credit card activity or credit report, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490.

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