Towards late December 2018, a few days before the Government shutdown, there was an alert issued by IRS for employers regarding the potential for identity theft and tax scams.
Both businesses and individuals are at risk of having their identities stolen, in cases where Tax refunds disappear and the Social Security numbers belonging to employees taken.
Thanks to the Internet, it’s easier than ever for criminals to obtain users personal information. Provided they have that data; scammers find it easy to steal your identity and damage your credit, a situation that can adversely affect your peace.
Elite Personal Finance has your Interest at heart and has since conducted research and provided detailed ways in which you can mimimize the risk of becoming a victim of Tax Fraud. Here are the steps to help you stay safe from this wicked act.
Did you know that Tax refund theft is more prevalent today?
Tax refund theft occurs each time scammer obtain your personal information. The scammer then files the tax return using your name, or someone else’ s where he/she claims a large amount of tax refund. Afterward, the fraudsters remit the funds to an address that does not belong to you. It doesn’t matter if you were owed the refund or not; it’s the fraudsters who will have the last laugh when they receive the money.
A lot of people think filing their taxes is miserable, the real misery awaits you, especially when you go for the routine filing to discover that you are a victim of tax identity theft.
Tips to Aid Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft
Properly self Organization and Early Filing
It’s essential that you file your taxes as soon as possible , this facilitates a quick refund on the amount owed. Above all, such actions make it hard for the scammers to play their dirty trick on you- via IRS in that case.
Adjusting Your Withholdings enhances a Lower Tax Refund.
Your earned income is the determining factor of income taxes levied. The much you owe at the time of taxing depends majorly on the amount you elected to have withheld from your paychecks.
Every year, each household expects about an average of $3,100, The figure is not constant to all as some get less while others even more. Isn’t this too much to give as a loan to the government? Well, you can prevent this by having a little amount of money taken out of your salary every month, this approach without shadows of doubt will extend to you a little bit of financial freedom.
Adopt Some Level of Diligence with Your Passwords
Many people tend to think they are doing themselves a “favor” by using the same password for multiple online accounts. Yes, we understand that remembering all these passwords is a nightmare but there is even a bigger nightmare out there and if it strikes you will have many sleepless nights. Try to make your passwords as long and complex as possible. Such will make it hard for a hacker to break. You can adopt a long phrase with symbols with upper and lower cases like “@#hackifyoucan@1#2.” The obvious ones like your name or the birth dates of your kids can readily undergo cracking.
Update your Cybersecurity every time
It’s arguably one of the best practices you can adopt to ensure that your account is secure. Always check for updates on the software you use, while updating the software, the same should happen with the computer.
Also, you must care about every place that you share and post your personal information. The social media excitement has led many people to expose a lot about their private lives like places of birth, and pets’ names on social sites which are easily viewed by anyone some of whom are hackers and fraudsters.
At this point, a paper shredder is essential in shredding to pieces all the passwords written on papers. Logging into unsecured Wi-Fi is not accepted at all costs.
Know the “Fake” IRS Call
Most of the time IRS will not call you, and neither shall they send you an email. You must know your contacts and calls from an unidentified number avoided because chances are its scammers.
Furthermore, try the best you can not to click on links within the emails from the “IRS.”
Alternatively, If you happen to have received a call and you are not sure that the caller is IRS representative, request a name and callback number to do your verification.
Report as soon as you suspect that you are a victim of Tax Fraud.
IRS has an official site where any victim of tax fraud or scam can report, besides, there are additional agencies that you can notify, they include state tax authority for different states.
Cleaning up tax disasters take up to 180 days to resolve, it includes hours of endless calls and conversations with the IRS. The 180-day is provisional, and the issue can spin to a year. Tax fraud is complicated, and one must not take them lightly-they are stressful to clear up. Victims are advised to seek professional guidance from a certified public accountant (CPA) or an Enrolled Agent for help.
- Report any cases of unknown caller demanding that you return your refund to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484 or on their website.
- Alert your bank if you notice strange deposits in your account. Fraudsters deposit money into bank accounts and later call the name on the account to demanding for a refund.
- Finally, if you happen to have received a check from the IRS or the state tax authority, and you did not expect it write “VOID” on the front of the check, email it back immediately inferring that it must have been sent by mistake or is potentially a fraud case.
It’s as simple as that, follow the above guidelines and stay safe from the scammers.