Protect Yourself Against Tax Fraud This Spring
Posted on February 20, 2019
Topic Categories: Consumer Help
By Kelly Martin Papai – BSA Compliance Officer & Risk Manager
Tax season is prime time for criminals intent on stealing personal data. Last year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) identified more than 14,000 fraudulent tax returns with nearly a billion dollars claimed in fraudulent refunds, according to a report from the Treasury Inspector for Tax Administration.
The IRS, individual state regulators and the tax industry, along with financial institutions like Cinfed, are working together to protect consumers from identity theft. These strengthened partnerships help ensure security and minimize risk.
First and foremost, beware of IRS impersonators. Taxpayers need to know:
- The IRS will not call you with threats of jail or lawsuits.
- The IRS will not send you an unsolicited e-mail suggesting you have a refund or that you need to update your account.
- The IRS will not request any sensitive information online.
These are all scams and they are persistent, so be alert and do not respond if you are contacted in this way. You can forward IRS-related scam e-mails to email@example.com and report IRS-impersonation phone calls at www.tigta.gov.
You can recognize other signs of potential tax-related identity theft and take steps to protect your personal information. Here are some security tips you can put into practice:
Get an Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) from the IRS.
An IP PIN is a six-digit number assigned to eligible taxpayers that helps prevent the misuse of your Social Security number on fraudulent income tax returns, particularly with electronic submissions. You must request your individual IP PIN from the IRS website.
Check your mail and credit union account statements every month.
If you discover an account you did not open, a balance discrepancy, or a purchase you did not make, contact the financial institution or creditor immediately to report the activity.
Monitor your credit reports on a regular basis.
Do you really know what’s on your credit report? Keeping an eye on your credit score through periodic reviews can ensure that your financial status is accurately reflected.
Take advantage of identity theft resources.
Education is still the best tool for fighting fraud. Stay informed through resources such as the Security Corner on Cinfed’s website. Research additional services to help safeguard your accounts; for example, Cinfed offers Automated Fraud Alerts (AFA) — credit and debit, a program that sends text messages to members when suspicious activity occurs. The IRS website (irs.gov) offers extensive information about tax fraud prevention and can be a helpful resource.
To help prevent fraud, consumers should be on heightened alert during tax season. A few simple steps can minimize the risk and keep financial data secure. Visit a Cinfed branch or contact Member Services with any questions.