3 Tips To Protect Yourself From Tax Return Fraud

tax fraud

Tax return fraud is currently the largest scam in the United States. In 2014, over 100,000 cases of tax identity theft were reported to the FTC resulting in $6.5 billion stolen. Here are some tips to protect yourself from this all-too-common modern crime.

1. Create an online account with the IRS

Fraudsters will try to beat you to the punch by filing your return before you do and thus receive your refund. The first step they will take is to set up this account, so make sure you have done this as soon as possible. The IRS has more details here.

2. File as early as possible

Data indicates that the risk of tax return fraud increases as the filing deadline approaches. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) processes tax returns in the order they are received. If a fraudulent return is submitted using your Social Security Number (SSN), it may be processed as the valid return. To minimize the chances of this occurring, it is advisable to file your tax return as early as possible. By submitting your return promptly, you reduce the likelihood of fraudulent returns being processed ahead of yours, providing an added layer of protection for your tax information.

3. Protect your Social Security Number

Never give out your full SSN unless you absolutely have to. There are certain situations where you are legally required to give it out, but if it’s not the government asking you are entitled to provide alternative means of identification. Shred any documents containing your SSN and never give it out on the phone or via email (the last 4 digits are fine). It should be noted that the IRS will only ever initiate contact with you through the mail; any other communication pretending to be the IRS through other media is most likely fraudulent.

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