Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Taxes Got You Singing the Blues?

It could be worse.  You could go to do your taxes and find out you’ve been a victim of identity theft.  Tax season has some looking forward to the possibility of a refund, but it also has some looking to take advantage of your eagerness to get your refund or your anxiety of having to pay.

Beware of suspicious phone calls, emails, web links or other such forms of communication claiming to be generated by the IRS.  Communication of this type may tell you that you need to respond with personal information to get your refund.  Always check about the validity of the document before just giving out your social security number or bank account information.

And hopefully you won’t be among some of the unfortunate who find someone else has used their social security number to gain employment, meaning that you may now have a different income than what you claimed and might owe more than you anticipated.  Or, even more surprisingly, you might learn that someone else already collected a refund by using your social security number.  Yes, that can and does happen.

The IRS compiled a list of tips regarding these kinds of crimes and the tips are worth reposting:
·  Don’t carry your Social Security card or any document(s) with your SSN on it.
·  Don’t give a business your SSN just because they ask. Give it only when required.
·  Protect your financial information.
·  Check your credit report every 12 months.
·  Secure personal information in your home.
·  Protect your personal computers by using firewalls, anti-spam/virus software, update security patches, and change 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 with whom you are dealing.

Be alert to possible identity theft if you receive an IRS notice or letter that states any of the following things:
·  More than one tax return for you was filed,
·  You have a balance due, refund offset, or have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return, or
·  IRS records indicate you received wages from an employer unknown to you.

Anyone can become a victim of identity theft.  Do what you can to protect yourself from this type of crime.  Check out  IRS's guide to identity fraud for taxpayers, http://www.irs.gov/uac/Taxpayer-Guide-to-Identity-Theft for further information.