You might not be thinking about your 2015 tax return, but identity thieves are. Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone steals your Social Security number and files a tax return before you do to claim a fraudulent refund in your name. The rewards for these thieves are huge: According to a U.S. Government Accounting Office report, in 2013 (the most recent data available), the IRS paid $5.8 billion in refunds that were later determined to be fraudulent.
Tax-related ID theft is a stealthy crime. You might not be aware that you’ve been victimized until you e-file your return and discover that a return has already been filed using your Social Security number. Or you might send in your return and receive a letter from the IRS saying that a return was already filed for you.
To raise consumer awareness about the threat of tax identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission is holding Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week (January 25-29). The events listed below (all times are Eastern) are designed to help you understand the nature of the crime, minimize your risk of becoming a victim, and learn what to do if thieves have stolen your refund. The events include:
In addition, the FTC offers educational materials on the topic, available free of charge. The materials are published in English and Spanish.Avoiding Tax Scams
Fraud involving IRS impersonators spikes during tax season. Remember:
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