Tax identity theft is a serious problem during this time of the year, as individuals who are getting their financial information and important documents in check so that they can file their taxes on time – and hopefully reap a hefty return from the government – are targeted by thieves looking to cash in. Because there is so much sensitive information being gathered and passing hands as individuals file their taxes, it’s important that Americans do all they can to keep tabs on their paperwork and not let personal identification information – i.e. Social Security numbers – become exposed to
To heighten consumer awareness of identity theft and the importance of protecting themselves during tax season, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has named this week, National Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week.
According to information from the FTC, tax identity theft in particular is usually uncovered when individuals learn that another person has filed taxes using their Social Security number. Often, this is because their personal information was used by an impostor to apply for employment, but it can also simply be the work of an opportunistic thief who beats you to the punch in filing.
If you discover you have become a victim of this crime, the first step you should take is to place an initial fraud alert with your credit card and bank accounts so that all activity in your name is paused. Then, you need to order your credit reports so that you can trace down exactly when this theft occurred. You’ll need this information for the identity theft report you must create and submit to the proper authorities. Learn more about what you can do to protect yourself with our guide on keeping your identity safe during tax season.
On the long term, you may consider a credit monitoring service so that you are alerted early to certain activity taking place in your name that may indicate fraud so that you can take the proper steps to recover from ID theft as early as possible. Also, remember to spread the word during National Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week so that your friends and loved ones don’t become victims either.