Tax-related ID theft occurs when someone uses a taxpayer’s stolen personal information to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund. Thieves then use personal information like a stolen Social Security number. While the accounting profession and IRS work hard to prevent identity theft, taxpayers also play an important role.
Here are five tips to help taxpayers protect themselves against identity theft:
1. Always use security software. This software should have firewall and anti-virus protections.
2. Use strong, unique passwords. They should also consider using a password manager.
3. Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, threatening calls, and texts from thieves. These scammers pose as legitimate organizations such as banks, credit card companies, and even the IRS.
4. Do not click on links in unsolicited emails or messages from unknown senders. Also, people shouldn’t click on links or download attachments from emails that seem suspicious, even if they appear to be from senders they know.
5. Protect personal information and that of any dependents. For example, people shouldn’t routinely carry around their Social Security cards. They should also make sure tax records are secure.