LifeLock Shares Five Tips to Help Reduce Consumer Risk for the Most Common Tax Scam – Identity Theft
TEMPE, Ariz.(March 25, 2014) - Some Americans submitting their taxes this year will make the unpleasant discovery that someone else has already filed and stolen their refunds. Tax fraud claimed 1.2 million victims in 2012 and another 1.6 million in just the first half of 2013, according to the U.S. Treasury Department1. An identity thief can submit a fraudulent refund claim with a Social Security number and a few personal details. All they have to do is fill out a tax return, falsify a person's income and tax withholding and have a refund sent to a debit card. Most refunds are issued quickly and often a victim will not discover that a refund has already been filed in his or her name until they try to file and receive a rejection notice. According to news reports, this type of fraud even happened to the U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, this year2.
This method of tax fraud has become such a problem that the IRS, which named identity theft as the No. 1 tax scam for 20133, now has thousands of people working to investigate and help protect against it. For those who fall victim to tax-related identity theft, there is an IRS form to fill out - Form 14039- and a special team that can be reached at 800-908-4490, extension 245. The IRS team can help resolve the identity theft. Individuals who are members of an identity theft protection service, such as LifeLock, look to a resolution team to help resolve identity theft issues with the IRS.
Keeping Your Information Safe This Tax Day
Here are five tips from the experts at LifeLock on how to help reduce your chances of being a victim of identity theft this tax season.
- Protect your Social Security number: Don't carry your Social Security card with you, and don't give out the number any more than absolutely necessary. If you are asked to provide it on a form, ask the company why they need it and whether you really have to share it, because this is often optional.
- Shred personal documents: Use a quality "cross-cut" shredder to destroy old tax forms, monthly financial statements and other documents that include your personal information. Or switch to online delivery, so that those documents do not end up in places where they can be stolen, like your mailbox or recycling bin.
- Don't wait until April 15: File as soon as you can, so your return gets to the IRS before any fraudulent ones.
- Do your taxes in a secure location: It's wonderfully convenient to work from coffee shops, but when you are handling sensitive information like your taxes, make sure you are on a secure network where it is harder for thieves to capture the information you are sending back and forth.
- Don't fall for scams: If someone calls or emails claiming to be from the IRS asking for personal information, don't provide it. The IRS says they only request information by mail, so if you get an e-mail or text message that appears to be from them asking you to send back your personal details, it is probably fraudulent.
The Federal Trade Commission has more information at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/topics/protecting-your-identity.
LifeLock, Inc. (NYSE: LOCK), is a leading provider of proactive identity theft protection services for consumers and fraud and risk solutions for enterprises. LifeLock's threat detection, proactive identity alerts, and comprehensive remediation services provide peace of mind for consumers amid the growing threat of identity theft. The LifeLock mobile app helps consumers manage their identity and payment cards on the go and enables LifeLock members to receive alerts and services on their digital device. Leveraging unique data, science and patented technology from ID Analytics, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary, LifeLock offers identity theft protection that goes significantly beyond credit monitoring. As part of its commitment to help fight identity theft, LifeLock works to train law enforcement and partners with a variety of non-profit organizations to help consumers establish positive habits to combat this threat.