Scammers know that tax season comes every year and they take full advantage of the opportunity to steal identities and to trick people into sending money. Tax identity theft can happen when someone files a phony tax return using your personal information to get a refund or uses your Social Security number to get a job. Here’s what you can do to protect yourself:
- Use a secure Internet connection if you file electronically, or mail your tax return directly from the post office.
- Shred copies of your tax return, drafts or calculation sheets you no longer need.
- Know the IRS won’t contact you by email, text or social media. If the IRS needs information, it will contact you by mail.
- Don’t give out your Social Security number unless necessary.
- Research a tax preparer thoroughly before you hand over personal information.
- Check your credit report for free at annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228 to make sure no other accounts have been opened in your name.
- Do not send money to anyone who calls you over the phone. Some scammers pose as IRS agents, spoof your caller ID and use phone threats to solicit your money.
If you believe your Social Security number has been compromised, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490. You can also connect with an AARP ElderWatch volunteer by calling 800-222-4444 and selecting option 2.